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Tuesday (2023)

Using humor, gentle grace, and a fantastical weathered, feathered friend, Tuesday offers a creative take on the inevitability and acceptance of Death.
Our Rating

Genre(s): Fantasy

Director: Daina Oniunas-Pusic

Actors: Arinzé Kene, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lola Petticrew, Leah Harvey

Year: 2023

MPAA Rating: R

Country: UK / USA

Death taking the shape of a filthy bedraggled macaw—who shows up to take life with the fanning of a wing—is a fascinating, kind of beautiful image. As Death appears to each person, one begs to be taken, another begs to live, while one woman literally spits in Death’s face (and is gently taken anyway). But if Death’s appearance belies the grief and violence that it absorbs, its really it’s voice (Arinzé Kene)—deep, aged, and gravely as a bag of stones—that feels as heavy as it’s burden.

Tuesday (Lola Petticrew) a wheelchair-bound teenager suffering from an unnamed terminal disease, is surprised to be confronted by Death, and begs just a little more time so her mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) can get home from work. Seemingly weary, Death agrees to take a break. But when mom arrives home and confronts this not-entirely-unexpected yet unwelcome visitor, she decides to take matters into her own hands to keep Death from taking her child.

Now, it all sounds macabre, but Tuesday finds a grace and patient understanding of the inevitability of death and the difficulty of letting a loved one go. Without spoiling too much, the film takes some wild, fantastical turns that allow for some surprising physical comedy (Julia is all-in) and quirky visuals. It slowly arrives to a sweetness as mother slowly comes to an acceptance about her child, while acknowledging (rather than avoiding) the pain of letting go.

Tuesday is a pocket-sized fantasy. There are great performances all around, including Leah Harvey as the home health nurse who is blinkingly accepts the strange new reality she has stumbled into. There are also things going on in the bigger surrounding picture that are teased at. Honestly, I wish some of the background fodder could have been explored more… these intriguing hints of how quickly the world can become a mess when you interfere with Death’s natural order. (Short message: Don’t try to cheat Death.) But by ignoring the background chaos, the film just focuses on the intimate world of the mother and daughter and their intense love story.

Ultimately, Tuesday is a moving and cathartic tale that creatively uses a weathered, feathered friend and some wild imagery to help illustrate and explain one of life’s eternal unknowns. This may not be a typical storybook version of Death, but this unexpected and often amusing variation offers its own gentle grace around the subject.

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