Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tallulah Adoption Movie Review

Tallulah lives in a van with her boyfriend Nico. When he leaves her to reconnect with his mother, Tallulah is troubled. She has no money and, other than her van, no home. She is mistaken as hotel housekeeping by Carolyn, who in a moment of questionable judgment conscripts Tallulah to watch her infant daughter Maddy while she goes on a date. When Carolyn returns, drunk and depressed, Tallulah decides to take Maddy with her for the night, believing that it would be better for the infant to not be left in the care of her drunken mother. When Carolyn comes to her senses, she reports that her baby has been kidnapped. Tallulah seeks refuge with Nico’s mother Margo, and wins her trust by telling her that the baby is Nico’s daughter. However, Carolyn and the police are coming closer and closer to finding Tallulah, whose well-intentioned but poorly thought-out act has become the subject of a police manhunt.


The Adoption Connection

There isn’t really an adoption storyline here, but some of the plot reflects some aspects of adoption. Tallulah tries to take unofficial protective custody of Maddy; she renames her, says that she is her own daughter, and comes to love her. When Carolyn finds them, Tallulah only returns Maddy to her when Carolyn expresses that she does actually want her daughter; previously, Tallulah had perceived that Carolyn saw her daughter as a burden. The adoption connection in the context of protective custody and then reunification reminds me of foster care to some extent (and a police officer actually asks Tallulah whether she intended to take the child into protective custody). However, the similarity between this story and adoption ends there; Tallulah never seems to believe that this arrangement will be permanent. More importantly, she takes it upon herself to take custody of Maddy, rather than involving the police or Child and Family Services, and in doing so, she actually kidnaps the child. 

Although it may be uncomfortable to acknowledge, sometimes, people say unkind or misinformed things about adoption, and might accuse all adoptions of being akin to what Tallulah does in this film. This offers the opportunity for foster parents to consider and prepare their response to these accusations in the event that they're ever posed to you or your children. What makes a situation in which a child is detained by Child Services different from kidnapping? There is a difference, to be sure – and it may be helpful for you to have your answer already considered  in the event that a similar question is ever posed by your child or posed to your child. ,    

Strong Points

Tallulah is definitely thought-provoking.

Even though Tallulah has done some seriously bad things, she still finds someone who accepts her.

A character wisely acknowledges that no one is born knowing how to be a parent, and that’s why we have to ask for help. Tallulah honestly replies that she’s never had anyone to ask before.

Weak Points

A scene involving nudity early in the film will make some viewers uncomfortable.

A social worker tells Carolyn that Carolyn is worthless.

Tallulah is available streaming on Netflix and is rated TV-MA, mostly due to a sex scene in the first few minutes of the film. The film is best left to an adult audience; some viewers might enjoy seeing Margo eventually warm up to Tallulah. (SPOILER ALERT – even after Margo learns the whole truth, she continues to care about Tallulah – END SPOILER). Although this isn’t an adoption story, the resemblance between this film and some adoption journeys – and the difference between this film and those journeys – raise an important theoretical question for parents to consider. Think about this film for an adult movie night.

Questions for Discussion

What makes legally sanctioned detention of children morally, ethically, and legally distinct from kidnapping?

How could Tallulah have better accomplished her goal of ensuring that Maddy remains safe?

Who are your supports as you raise your children? Who taught you how to parent? 

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