TUESDAY Review: Is A24's Latest Prestige Oddity for the Birds?

For Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tuesday’s gone with the wind.

Featured Critic; St. Louis, MO
TUESDAY Review: Is A24's Latest Prestige Oddity for the Birds?

Death.  Pestilence.  A plague of locusts.  A large talking bird looking to claim your lifeforce.  For most anyone, this is the apocalypse.  But for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, it’s Tuesday.  

Another forcibly odd and tonally challenged film from the younger end of the A24 weirdness mill, Croatian filmmaker Daina O. Pusić steps up for her first feature-length outing. Tuesday, named after Louis-Dreyfus’ character Zora’s terminally-ill teenage daughter (Lola Petticrew), is actually not a global disaster story.  

The aforementioned apocalypse largely plays out just off screen, in the windows of Zora’s mind, although the exact nature of the movie’s reality is never made overt.  And good for it for that.

What is overt is that Tuesday is not doing well physically and is unabashedly preparing to shed this mortal coil.  Her scattered and frazzled mother, however, has become fully preoccupied with simply keeping her own internal coils fully suppressed.  Secretly unemployed and pawning anything that isn’t nailed down on the second floor of her home -- which has long been inaccessible to wheelchair-bound Tuesday -- to cover ever-mounting costs, Zora is a harried cliché of denial and anxiety.  

Louis-Dreyfus, whose celebrity presence no doubt enabled this film’s green light, gives her challenging role her all, but is nonetheless miscast.  Playing it with full-on “hot mess” energy, her attempts to imbue the nihilistic material with bites of humor have no chance of landing within the airtight world of the film.  

Still, one gets the feeling that such small and occasional doses of humor was never off the menu for Tuesday.  One of the main characters is, after all, a mysterious talking and perpetually growing and shrinking orange macaw.  


This no-so-fine feathered friend (fiend?) is Death itself, finding its voice (Arinzé Kene, sounding particularly Leonard Cohen-esque), and settling in for quite a while with the intuitive Tuesday.  A marvel of photorealistic computer-created visual effects, the difficult-to-achieve chronic scale-shifting of this reverse stork, this sour bird of death, is largely believable as it prowls our sweet bird of youth.  Tuesday is on his agenda, and she’s mostly ready for him.  But she’s too worried about her mom.  

Failing to realize that Tuesday is the responsible one in their relationship, Zora proceeds to attack Death.  In her strange overtaking of it, we observe some thickly metaphorical Five Stages of Grief stuff.  I can’t say that much if any of it feels profound, so much as simply insistent.  

Such is the rigidity of director Pusić, who shows considerable creative promise but would do well to ease off a bit.  At its worst -- and thankfully this aspect is generally fleeting in this structurally and tonally flawed but intriguing movie -- Tuesday is one dour, self-satisfied trip.  

The film opens Friday, June 14, in select U.S. theaters, via A24 Films

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A24Daina O. PusićDeathJulia Louis-DreyfusLola Petticrew

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