‘Tuesday’ is an eccentric, emotional story that might resonate on any day of the week

“Tuesday” (2024) – Fifteen-year-old Tuesday (Lola Petticrew) is sick. 

Tuesday can no longer walk.  This kind, gentle soul sits in a wheelchair or in bed and sometimes breathes with the daunting assistance of an oxygen tank and its cumbersome plastic tubes. 

She is dying.

Her mom, Zora (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), has the impossible task of coping with the reality of losing her little girl. 

The reality is that director/writer Daina Oniunas-Pusic’s feature film debut is an emotional experience.  It works with big, sweeping ideas that are resourcefully presented by a small central cast but also packaged with a bizarre turn that realigns a foreseeable narrative onto a startling path.

Although some occasional supporting players make bit appearances on this cinematic road (to offer a larger context outside of this family’s worldview in the United Kingdom), most of the screentime belongs to Zora, Tuesday, Tuesday’s nurse, Billie (Leah Harvey), and an uninvited guest, Death (voiced by Arinze Kene).

Death arrives in an unexpected but not completely outlandish form.  However, his supernatural abilities visually astound and accentuate his essence, and he speaks with a weary, gravelly baritone voice. 

(Even though, historically, Death can be thought of as a genderless entity, the character in this instance is voiced by Kene, so this review will refer to Death as “he.”)

In the movie’s opening few minutes, Oniunas-Pusic expertly establishes Death’s purpose and mindset, exploring mixed feelings of doom and sympathy.  Death doesn’t relish his profession but views it as an ongoing duty that eases suffering.  He’s oddly humane, even though he ends lives – one at a time – with exceptional efficiency.

Later in the first act, Death greets Tuesday, an empathetic, thoughtful young lady who connects with this timeless presence, one who must perform a grave task.  However, the 111-minute big-screen story has just begun, as an intricate dynamic between this duo includes a necessary third player, Zora, an unapologetic and suffering mother who would sacrifice anything for her daughter. 

“Tuesday” is an A24 film, and A24 enjoys an admirable long-standing reputation for introducing movies with eccentric and startling tales, ones that take chances but are sometimes not easily consumable by mainstream audiences.  “Tuesday” is no different, and in fact, Oniunas-Pusic’s picture could be the poster child for this idea or at least share a “wall of fame” with countless works, like “Under the Skin” (2014), “The Lobster” (2016), “Midsommar” (2019), “Men” (2022), or take your pick from five dozen others.

The aforementioned bizarre turn will not be shared in this review, nor will the form of Death.   Hopefully, walking into the theatre, you will not be privy to either piece of knowledge.  Oniunas-Pusic’s twisted twist is a mesmerizing surprise that will provoke disbelief and probably some chuckles, whether intended or not.  This critic laughed at times, by design or perhaps out of anxiety.  Either way, the startling plot device works.

Still, the film’s core centers around a mother-daughter relationship, an eternal bond that, unfortunately, has a temporary hold in the physical form on planet Earth.  Even with a detour that lasts for an extensive portion of the runtime, the movie mostly keeps that connection’s focus in plain view or hovering behind the scenes. 

“Tuesday” is both broadly philosophical and intimately specific, and Petticrew’s Tuesday is earnest, calm, and reassuring despite her (probable) fate, which we may or may not witness on-screen.  Meanwhile, Louis-Dreyfus, enjoying a terrific second act after “Seinfeld” (1989 – 1998), is profound and utterly believable in moments of anguish when Zora faces unmanageable strife or the anticipation of it.

No question, audiences can anticipate that Tuesday’s and Zora’s exchanges of love and adoration should resonate for anyone who cares for a family member…seven days a week and twice on Tuesday. 

⭐ ⭐⭐ 1/2 out of ⭐ ⭐⭐⭐

Directed and written by:  Daina Oniunas-Pusic

Starring:  Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lola Petticrew, Leah Harvey, and Arinze Kene

Runtime:  111 minutes

Rated: R

Image credits: A24

Related posts

Leave a Comment