Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Tallulah Movie Poster Image
Engaging indie film has mature themes, edgy content.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 111 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive messages. Explores the moral ambiguities of a young woman who takes a baby from an unfit mother. Themes of resilience in the face of emotional turmoil. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The lead character steals and lies to survive, culminating in walking off with a baby whose mother, by all appearances, is unfit to take care of her. She convinces the mother of the guy she had been dating that the baby is her granddaughter.


The lead character runs out of a bar and is pursued by men she ripped off while gambling.


A young man and woman have sex in the back of a van -- some nudity (female breasts). After a failed seduction attempt, talk of how the woman should have "grabbed his c--k." Talk of the sex life, or lack thereof, of a formerly married couple. A drunk woman discusses the affair she's having and how much it arouses her. 


Frequent profanity, including frequent use of "f--k." A woman calls her gay ex-husband "faggot." "C--k," "s--t," "ass," "d--k." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Marijuana smoking. Whiskey, wine, and beer drinking. A woman is very drunk; her baby walks around a hotel room with an unopened bottle of beer. A woman discusses how she tried to smuggle heroin by sticking the package into her vagina. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tallulah is a 2016 indie drama written and directed by Sian Heder (Orange Is the New Black) in which Elliot Page plays a young homeless woman who makes a snap decision to kidnap a baby from an unfit mother. The mature themes -- failed families, letting go of the past, moral ambiguity -- as well as the edgy content -- characters lie, cheat, and steal to survive -- make this most appropriate for older teens and adults. In the first five minutes, the lead character flees from a bar after conning the locals out of their money, smokes marijuana, and has sex in the back of the van she lives in. There is frequent profanity, including ample use of "f--k." A mother is shown very drunk, discussing the affair she's having while her toddler walks around naked, urinating on the floor and holding an unopened beer bottle. A woman discusses how she tried to smuggle heroin by sticking the package into her vagina. Bare breasts are shown in the sex scene.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAndrosq August 17, 2018

Child protection

This is an interesting tale that is shocking but suitable for the savvy teenager.
Teen, 15 years old Written byBea25 November 10, 2019
Such a good film, strongly recommend! Great for 14+ because of language and a sex scene.

What's the story?

In TALLULAH, the title character (Elliot Page) is a vagabond living a hand-to-mouth existence in a van with her boyfriend. When her boyfriend leaves her and goes back to New York City, she drives straight to Manhattan. Homeless and hungry, she tries to con her boyfriend's mother Margot (Allison Janney) into giving her money and possibly a place to stay. When the mother refuses, Tallulah sneaks into a hotel and starts eating the scraps of room service food left in the hall. While doing this, a drunk woman named Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard), believing Tallulah to be an employee of the hotel, begs her to babysit her baby daughter while she pursues her extramarital affair. When the woman returns drunk, Tallulah decides to kidnap the baby. She returns to Margot's apartment, claiming the baby is hers and that Margot is a grandmother. A friendship slowly develops between Tallulah and Margot as Margot tries to come to terms with her failed marriage and not seeing her son in two years. As Margot tries to finally move on with her life, Tallulah finds her deceptions to be increasingly difficult to maintain, especially when the police, the news, and Carolyn are determined to find the missing baby. 

Is it any good?

This engaging indie drama is rife with moral ambiguity and flawed-but-likable characters that will be best appreciated by older teens and adults. The mistakes and missteps are clearly shown to be the results of characters being dealt some bad hands in life, and the not-so-simple act of merely keeping it together is what motivates these characters and drives the overall story. There are no clean and easy answers, and indecision is as much a part of the inner conflicts as poor decisions are. The depth of these characters and how they interact with each other is what makes this exploration of the familiar theme of wrong-choice-that-feels-like-a-right-choice work so well. 

And the acting itself is magnificent. As Margot, Allison Janney delivers a memorable performance of a woman emotionally exhausted but still trying to find a way to move forward with her life. As Tallulah, Elliot Page reveals all the subtleties of a character who has finely honed survival skills but is lacking in the day-to-day life skills most of us take for granted. Complexity and depth shine through in both the performances and the story, which is why Tallulah is an excellent film.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the moral ambiguities presented in Tallulah. How does the behavior of the baby's mother influence Tallulah's decision to kidnap the baby? How is Tallulah already living a life of moral ambiguity to survive? What are some other examples of movies, TV shows, and novels in which moral ambiguity is a central theme? 

  • What are some of the ways in which indie movies are different from mainstream movies? What do you think is the appeal for established actors and directors to work on indie projects? 

  • Did the flaws of these characters, and the mistakes they made, make them more likable, relatable, or realistic? Why, or why not? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love indie movies and dramas

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate