May 18

“In Treatment” Season 4: Uzo Aduba As Therapist

In Treatment Season 4 with Uzo Aduba as the central figure, therapist Brooke Taylor, is coming soon. The setting this time around is Los Angeles during COVID.

For info about the first three seasons (2008 to 2010), in which Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne) was a therapist in therapy himself, see my previous post.

When In Treatment Season 4 is available on May 23rd (HBO Max), its 30-minute episodes will air back to back on Sunday and Monday nights.

In addition to Aduba, the cast of the new season of In Treatment includes the following:

  • Adam (Joel Kinnaman), the guy in Brooke’s conflicted love life
  • Eladio (Anthony Ramos), a home health aide for a wealthy family
  • Rita (Liza Colón-Zayas), Brooke’s close friend
  • Colin (John Benjamin Hickey), a white-collar criminal recently released from prison
  • Laila (Quintessa Swindell), a teenager dealing with family expectations

Will Brooke, as In Treatment‘s prior therapist Paul Weston, seek her own therapy? Not sure, but viewers will definitely see that she has her own issues, at least in part via her conversations with friend Rita. “The press release says the therapist is dealing with ‘a life-altering loss,’ and her on-again, off-again boyfriend has resurfaced to complicate her life. As a Black woman, she also faces challenges in the field that Weston certainly never had to contend with” (Looper).

Kelly Lawler, USA Today, reports that Aduba and the series producers recently spoke at a conference about “the importance of bringing the series back with a Black woman at its center, which allowed them to explore new topics.” As therapy stigma is prevalent in communities of color, this is a welcomed approach. Related to this,  Aduba herself has been publicly relating her personal experience with therapy.

More from Lucy Feldman, Time, about what you can expect to see:

In the space of a few episodes, Brooke has to coax out the nuances of a young caretaker’s feelings of abandonment, help embrace a teenage girl’s Black and queer identity, and navigate a privileged man’s dishonesty. The show doesn’t shy away from contemporary tensions, pushing into violent racial fantasies and toxic masculinity. Watching Aduba’s performance in these scenes, it’s easy to feel Brooke’s frustration, unease, even danger. ‘This is a Black, female psychologist treating people through the lens of the world as she sees it,’ Aduba says. ‘There are a lot of unknowns of how that day is going to go, and why people have arrived there.’

Watch the trailer below:

Aug 26

“Tallulah”: Three Wayward Women and a Baby

At its heart,Tallulah is about three women who think themselves unfit for parenthood for wildly different reasons, and while writer-director Sian Heder is unafraid to explore their many flaws, she fortunately refrains from passing judgment or drawing simplistic, moralizing conclusions. David Sims, The Atlantic

Sian Heder, a writer for Orange Is the New Black, is also the creative force behind a Netflix original film, available for streaming, called Tallulah. And for its “(t)hemes of motherhood, abandonment, loss, family and female identity…plumbed to their depths” (Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times), it’s well worth the watch.

More from Walsh about the plot in brief: “Heder…reached into her own life experiences to write and direct the film, starring Ellen Page in the titular role as a nomadic young woman who has no attachments to any place or thing. She does, however, have a knack for attaching herself to people — her boyfriend Nico (Evan Jonigkeit), Nico’s mother, Margo (Allison Janney), and a baby she accidentally babysits, then accidentally kidnaps, in a good faith effort to keep her safe.”

David Sims, The Atlantic, with more details:

…As the film begins, [her] relationship falls apart, and Tallulah finds herself in New York, stealing from fancy hotel rooms while posing as a housekeeper. There, she meets Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard), a permanently wasted socialite who seems obviously neglectful of her one-year-old daughter; in a moment of vigilante justice, Tallulah snatches the baby and begins pretending it’s her daughter…

Margo and Tallulah eventually form a bond, and life lessons are learned—that Margo should take more risks, that Tallulah can see the value of family and more traditional domesticity. But every time it seems that Tallulah is swerving into conventional Hallmark-movie territory, Heder does something unexpected. Rather than dropping Carolyn’s story once her baby is taken, the film zooms in on her grief, letting the audience feel the consequences of Tallulah’s actions. In a film of strong performances, Blanchard is probably the biggest surprise…

The trailer’s below:

Most critics agree that the acting rises above all else. Geoff Berkshire, Variety:

Page is simply superb in a complex role that perfectly plays to her gift for balancing deadpan comedy with surprisingly deep emotional reserves. And while she was a sterling support opposite Page in ‘Juno,’ Janney rises here nearly to the level of co-lead as an uptight control freak whose desire to cling to her family only serves to push them away.

Reliable character actress Blanchard is perhaps the biggest revelation, playing Carolyn at first as a spot-on parody of a certain kind of real housewife of self-absorption, but gradually peeling back her layers — in collaboration with Heder — to reveal the wounded woman underneath.

Neil Genzlinger, New York Times: “…(I)f there were an Oscar for best performance by children too young to know they’re in a movie, the twins playing this baby (Liliana and Evangeline Ellis) would be a shoo-in.”

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: “And when Uzo Aduba of ‘Orange’ turns up as a drily capable (and pregnant) child-services officer, Heder’s portrait gallery of motherhood — good, flawed, accidental, just trying to make it through the day — is complete.”

Autostraddle: “Lunch with Margo’s gay ex-husband [John Benjamin Hickey] and his new partner [Zachary Quinto] is one of the best scenes in the film, sketching a whole universe and providing a window into Margo and her husband’s marriage without trying to give more information than the audience can handle.”

Selected Tallulah Reviews

Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times: “Even if the tale is a bit much to be believed at times, it’s unlikely you’ll see a film more refreshingly honest and incisive about motherhood than ‘Tallulah’.”

Geoff Berkshire, Variety: “Heder’s approach is reminiscent of her terrific work on ‘Orange’ in numerous ways — from a boundless compassion for women’s hidden stories to the graceful mix of smart comedy and human drama.”

Scott Tobias, NPR: “That Heder’s warts-and-all vision of maternal ambivalence lacks focus and concision seems partly by design, a refusal to oversimplify these women for the sake of narrative expedience. They’re screwed up. They’re good-hearted. They’re human.”