Review: Julia Louis-Dreyfus Stars in Tuesday, a Vulnerable, Whimsical Exploration of Self Preservation and Perseverance

There's no denying that there are more movies than ever. Film festivals routinely report higher submission numbers than ever, and it's next to impossible to keep track of what's premiering on every streaming service each week, let alone in theaters. With rare exception, the majority of films lately fly relatively under the radar until you might discover them thanks to a friend's recommendation, a brief social post you catch while scrolling or, perhaps, a local cultural website that aims to draw your attention to these hidden gems.

Allow me to offer the latest addition to this list: Tuesday, a deceptively simply but grandly powerful film about death and grief and fear and self preservation by first-time filmmaker Daina Oniunas-Pusic that you've probably not heard of yet. Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Zora, a mother confronting the impending death of her terminally ill daughter, Tuesday (Lola Petticrew), the film manages to be both whimsical and worldly as it tackles some of the heaviest matters we face in the duration of the human experience.

Writer/director Oniunas-Pusic does what any good screenwriter is taught to do, which is to drop us right into the action of Tuesday, where the title character is already deeply sick and her mother is grappling with the inevitable while also denying that it's ever going to happen. In the film, this looming reality is portrayed by, of all things, a size-shifting, deep-red macaw who speaks with a gravelly seriousness (voiced by Arinzé Kene) who comes to Tuesday's side as she's nearing the end of her life. But Zora is not ready to say goodbye, and her refusal to let death do its work culminates in one very funny but understandable decision that has unexpected and global ripple effects.

It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that what Oniunas-Pusic has created is in the vein of the recent blockbuster Everything Everywhere All at Once, also a film about a strained mother-daughter relationship and the deep and wide impact each of our lives has on everyone else's, whether we realize it or not. It this way, the filmmaker's ability to balance both the broad and the very specific is something to be admired. Though admittedly less ambitious in many ways, Tuesday is nevertheless a beautifully poignant exploration of very real, very universal themes, all bolstered by Louis-Dreyfus doing some of the best dramatic work of her career. We are the lucky ones to have a woman so talented embrace the roles that make us laugh as much as the ones that make us weep.

I often go into films not knowing much about them beyond who to expect on screen and maybe a rough outline of the premise (though sometimes not even that). It's part of the discovery for me, for better or worse, allowing a film to tell me its story without any expectation or preconceived notions. Tuesday is a film that more than impresses in this regard, though it might not be making big splashes across entertainment media and in the cultural zeitgeist. With ingenuity, vulnerability and grace, it is a fully developed original idea that isn't afraid to bring its audience along for both the lighthearted everyday moments and the most difficult, soul-changing ones, too.

Tuesday is now playing in select theaters.

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Lisa Trifone