‘Landline’ directed by Gillian Robespierre (‘Obvious Child’) starring Jenny Slate, John Turturro, Edie Falco, and Abby Quinn, hits theaters this week.
‘Landline’ is a multi-generational coming of age tale set in 1995 that awkwardly tugs at those tricky heartstrings. The world is not black and white, and Robespierre does her best to explain that relationships take work in this graying of the family dynamic. The nostalgia of the 90s does just enough to make the film unique, but any time period would work for this story. ‘Landline’ has a familiar, pretentious, indie feel to it; but the heart of the characters is what shines through in the end.
The cast is what sells this film and gives the plot movement and life. Jenny Slate’s character Dana is an awful person, but with Slate behind the wheel you can’t help but like the character. What ever the middle is between ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ and ‘Seinfeld’ is where Dana lives. John Turturro at this point in his career has hit the ‘Kevin Spacey level’ when comes to putting on an acting clinic. Turturro’s character, Alan, is where most men hope they don’t end up in life. Edie Falco brings the true grit the role of Pat, the mother of the family. Keeping a family together is rough and takes a toll on Pat. When Pat has finally had enough, that’s where Falco reminds the audience of her power and command. Ali, played by Abby Quinn is the most put together character, and it will be interesting to watch her mature into an actor. Ali is cold-hearted, and Quinn made that resonate in her performance.
Robespierre doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but the audience will relate to her passionate storytelling. Where Robespierre succeeds is playing it down the middle with this film, not being too comedic or too serious. Either direction would have ended horribly for this movie. The balance is what makes Slate awful and likable at the same time.
If you want to contemplate your life choices and relationships, ‘Landline’ will get you brain churning.