Grief is a Thing with Feathers | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Grief is a Thing with Feathers

"Tuesday" takes you there and back again

I've watched so many movies that if I tried to give you a ballpark number you would quite possibly think I've either spent too much of my life in front of screens or that I don't sleep enough. Both and neither are true. It's becoming more of a rarity for me to come across a movie that hits me like a truly singular work; something that doesn't remind me of anything other than my own evergreen love of cinema. Even something startlingly original can still nakedly wear its influences on its sleeve enough to be reminiscent of older films. But when I see something that not only manages to subvert expectations while also being a moving work of art on its own... well that's what I go to movies for in the first place.

click to enlarge Grief is a Thing with Feathers
Courtesy A24
Julia Louis-Dreyfus has serious dramatic chops that could lead her into an entirely new era in her career.

It'll take a few more viewings, but right now that's how I'm feeling about the new A24 film, "Tuesday," starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lola Petticrew, Leah Harvey and the voice of Arinzé Kene. If you watch the trailer, it looks like the movie that you're getting is a tearjerking fairy tale about death, grief and the bond between a mother and daughter.

Again, just based on the trailer, the story follows a terminally ill young woman named Tuesday who is visited by Death (in the guise of a macaw that can shrink to the size of a pin or grow into a giant), but instead of being taken by him, she teaches Death how to quiet all the pain and suffering he hears in his mind every waking moment. Death is so feared and reviled by everyone he meets that he enjoys spending time with Tuesday and allows her to say her goodbyes to Zora (Louis-Dreyfus), her mother who is deep in denial about losing her daughter.

To an extent, this is exactly what the movie is about. The previews make it look like a "typical" A24 film with an unsettling score, strong performances, instances of magical realism and an actor everyone is familiar with playing against type. It looks heartbreaking and beautiful in the same way that "Aftersun" or "The Lobster" does, by telling an achingly human story couched in metaphor.

But then about 30 minutes into the film, Louis-Dreyfus does something crazy and changes everything that comes after. The movie that's being advertised is a sad allegory for people who like a dash of grief in their cinema. The movie that exists is a batshit insane fantasy dramedy that defies narrative convention and becomes something akin to a tonally schizophrenic funhouse ride fueled by gallows humor, dream logic and a grounded masterclass in acting by Louis-Dreyfus. This is the most dramatic work I've ever seen from her, and I hope it's the beginning of an entirely new era in her career. She is a movie star here.

If sometime in the last few months you've pejoratively described a movie as "weird," then this one isn't for you, but if you like to be challenged and upset and left staring at the screen with absolutely no idea where something is going, then I think you've found your new favorite. Again, I don't know how well all of it hangs together without watching it at least one more time, but on initial viewing, "Tuesday" is a fearlessly inventive and emotionally resonant singularity that feels like the kind of movie we didn't even know we needed.

Director Daina O. Pusi crafts something truly unlike anything I've seen before, using multi-layered sound design and voice work to pull the viewer into levels between heartbreak and haunting, sometimes in the space of a single scene. It's rare we see a feature debut this eccentrically original and, when we do, it's something we should be grateful for, knowing that the future of film is in good hands.

I can't say for certain that you'll like "Tuesday," but I can guarantee you won't forget it.

Dir. Daina O. Pusi
Grade: A-
Now playing at Regal Old Mill, coming soon to Tin Pan Theater

Jared Rasic

Film critic and author of food, arts and culture stories for the Source Weekly since 2010.
Comments (0)
Add a Comment
For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here