de facto film reviews 2 stars

Daina O. Pusić sophomore feature Tuesday attempts to be a fantasy drama about death, and in that regard, it holds some endearing and equally bizarre moments, but mostly it’s a tonally uneven, tedious, and jarring mess.

Playing on the concept of the Grim Reaper, Tuesday is like a modern retelling of Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, but nowhere near as thoughtful. Instead of the supernatural being draped in a cloak, here death comes as a cosmic parrot (voiced by Arinze Kene) who grunts, has deep anxiety issues often, and loves to morph into various sizes. He keeps hearing a particular voice in his head, one of a terminally ill young girl named Tuesday (Lola Petticrew), who prolongs her death, and they bond together after she tells him a joke. She even gives the parrot a bath and vapes marijuana together, and she requests that he please wait to kill her until her mother Zora (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).


Courtesy A24

Zora and Death end up having a confrontation, one that I’m not going to spoil. The set-up ends up building up some ideas about mothers and daughters, one that echoes Everything Everywhere All at Once, Lady Bird, or The Falls, and Louis-Dreyfus is the glue that holds most of the film together as it veers off to a manic mess where the film can’t decide what movie it wants to be with an uneven mix of body horror, sentimentality, and fantastical drama. For each success, there is something that derails with its precious execution, which includes silly body metamorphism, Tuesday and Death Parrot listening to Ice Cube, and an odd interlude with taxidermized rats dressed as priests. The film also runs on the idea of what happens if people don’t die and how much suffering occurs if there isn’t death.

The movie ends up raising some interesting ideas, but it doesn’t quite hit on all levels. In fact, it ends up hitting a lot of the same notes. The third act of the film echoes the set-up, and there is an epilogue that feels exhausting. Additionally, Louis-Dreyfus scenes shine, and the moments with her daughter are moving. Indeed, the film holds the A24 branding of being quirky and modern. However, she is left sidelined, and the visuals and style feel overdirected, while the writing feels underwritten. We are giving little details about Tuesday’s illness and why she is British as Zora is American. We never know why death is a parrot and how death can be in so many places at once, but somehow death is delayed with Zola. The film just sets out to be bizarre and feels like it can rationalize its strangeness by just delivering some mawkish sentimentality. With that, Tuesday is a tonally frustrating and very contrived film that never quite reaches the existentialism that it promises due to its gimmicky creative decisions that derails so much potential.

TUESDAY is now playing in theaters