Poor writing and sub par performances from the entire cast make Landline a mediocre film.
‘Landline’ has a strong cast of John Turturro, Edie Falco, Abby Quinn, and Jenny Slate. The film deals with the ever changing dynamics of a family. Turturro’s character is a father who seems to hate himself for giving up on his art (he was a playwright) and selling out to write ad-copy. Falco’s character is this big shot at the EPA who appears to love work more than her husband. These two spend a great deal of time talking about the “good old days” and avoid most conversations dealing with the present. These characters show little affection towards one another. Their commitment to the children appears to be what binds them together.
Quinn’s character is the wild child of the family. It’s her heroin snorting, rave attending, and all night sex romps that allow her to stumble upon the evidence that her father is having an affair. While she’s the furthest thing from a saint, it’s her honesty about her father that was refreshing to see.
While the sisters bonding over this horrible act their father committed was extremely predictable, it still was nice to see unfold.
What Didn’t Work
It appears that cheating runs in the family as Slate’s character has a tryst with a former college friend. Basically, everyone in the family is awful to some degree. There really isn’t any sort of heart to this film, it’s more of an exercise in coping mechanisms. The family constantly makes jokes at the expense of Dana (Slate) even poking fun at her affair. Her sister can’t cope so she turns to drinking. The father hides behind his pencil and paper. Falco’s character buries herself in work. Instead of highlighting how these characters avoided conflict, this film should have been about how they dealt with it.
Having all these different deviations from the actual narrative diluted the quality of the overall piece. Instead of making this film about everyone’s bad habits, the story should have been about Dana’s parents. The family dynamic undergoes a massive shift due to their parent’s actions (specifically her father’s).
The cinematography was a mixture of two-shots and long drawn out looks at various characters facial expressions giving ‘Landline’ more of a television look rather than that of a feature film.
In absence of a focused narrative, they added in more off color humor. While the idea of pee and fart jokes might elicit a chuckle, it only masked some real issues.
Landline does nothing to separate itself from any number of indie films produced in a given year. If anything, watching this film reminded me just how special Slate’s performance was in The Obvious Child. Some will go check the film out just based on the actor’s resume but this is by far her worst movie to date. If anyone wants to check this out, wait till it hits Red Box in a few weeks.