'Tuesday': Julia Louis-Dreyfus takes on death as a grieving mother in imaginative new film

Daina O. Pusic's debut feature film uniquely explores questions about mortality

Death, the afterlife and motherhood are all explored in the movie Tuesday, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Lola Petticrew. In Daina O. Pusic's debut feature film, Death comes in the form of a bird, a macaw specifically, voiced by Arinzé Kene.

It's a unique take on a visual representation of death and the reality of mortality. Louis-Dreyfus is a highlight, infusing appealing sarcasm into a story that's largely wrapped in devastation.

Before we meet our main characters in Tuesday, Pusic begins the film with a dark and chilling image of Death's arrival, paired with the sounds of pain.

Then we see Tuesday (Petticrew), who has a terminal illness. It's her time to get a visit from Death, but Tuesday asks if her death could wait until her mother, Zora (Louis-Dreyfus), gets home. The bird agrees to the request.

Zora is an American who lives in London and is having trouble coming to terms with her daughter's illness, to the point where she tries to stay out of their home for as long as possible each day. When Tuesday initially calls her mother when Death arrives, Zora ignores the call.

While saying too much more would ruin most of the film, and it really is a journey best experienced without spoilers, we'll share that Zora's initial reaction is to attempt to get away from the eventual action Death needs to take with Tuesday.

Lola Petticrew and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Tuesday (Kevin Baker/A24)
Lola Petticrew and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Tuesday (Kevin Baker/A24)

Pusic's film will really make you run through the full scope of emotions, while including moments with Death that are completely enchanting.

But it's a lot for one film to balance big questions about the philosophy of death, with a fantastical creature that's growing and shifting, and changing throughout the story. And on top of that, an exploration of a relationship between a single mother and her dying daughter.

The movie's cracks are largely linked to the limited details provided about these characters. We never really hear much about Tuesday and Zora's lives, including how and why Zora is an American in London. We also never know the exact circumstances of Tuesday's illness. There are also elements of Death's travels that are a bit murky. For a film that's almost two hours long, it leaves you with a lot time to drift into trying to find answers to these questions.

Petticrew and Louis-Dreyfus are a particularly effective pairing that together create the emotional heartbeat needed as an anchor for a story making bold moves, both from the film's story and its imaginatively constructed scenes. You can feel the connection these two have, while Tuesday also leans into the awkward tension between them in a really refreshing exploration of mother-daughter relationships.

The ambitious filmmaking can be a bit awkward to watch, sometimes lacking cohesion, but there is something that's still endearing about the movie, particularly the relationship between Zora, Tuesday and Death.

Tuesday is now in theatres