Saturday, August 12, 2017

Landline: Movie Review


Witty, genuine and authentic.
Landline is set in the 90s. The filmmakers definitely make that point clear, but at the same time the references are mostly kept in the background. The film is so much more than outdated fashion and culture jokes. It’s a very enjoyable treatise on love – family love and commitment to yourself and commitment to another you’ve professed to love. It hits that remarkable balance between witty silliness and relatable drama of real life. 2017

Directed by: Gillian Robespierre

Screenplay by: Elisabeth Holm, Gillian Robespierre

Starring: Jenny Slate, Abby Quinn, Edie Falco, John Turturro and Jay Duplass

The Jacobs family the film is centered around includes professor and failing writer, dad Alan (John Turturro); Pants suit-wearing and working mom, Pat (Edie Falco); Older sister Dana (Jenny Slate), who is out on her own, engaged to be married, working, and going through her own quarter-life crisis; and teenage sister Ali (Abby Quinn) who has perfected the snarky, sarcastic 16-year-old act that both parents and sister are tired of, and sneaks off for her own nights of rebellion.

Jenny Slate and Jay Duplass in LANDLINE,
an Amazon Studios release. Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.
At the outset, this is a funny film as both mom and dad have given up trying to teach their teenage daughter proper decorum. Mom corrects Ali’s use of “husband” to describe Dana’s fiancé as opposed to her use of a sexually-explicit term that most people wouldn’t say in front of their parents. Ali says that her sister’s name is Douche-bag, but her father corrects her that it’s too German of a name, so she wouldn’t be called that. But through all the jokes there’s an authenticity that really grounds the film.

With the same team behind it as Obvious Child, namely director Gillian Robespierre, writers Elisabeth Holm and Gillian Robespierre, and star Jenny Slate, it’s going to very reasonably garner comparisons. Landline is not as purely funny as Obvious Child, but Slate’s characters do go through similar quarter-life crises. But there’s a much stronger, and darker, dramatic element behind Dana’s ill-advised decisions in Landline. She knows she’s going to have to eventually face the consequences after her poor choices, and she knows it’s not going to be pretty. The audience is there each step along the way from her comedic decisions to the dramatic outcomes – for two major reasons: Slate’s ability to lend authenticity to her comedy, and co-star Jay Duplass’s ability to do the exact same thing.

Abby Quinn, Edie Falco, and Jenny Slate in LANDLINE,
an Amazon Studios release. Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.
Landline expands on the family themes in Obvious Child. One of the main plots here is the relationship between Ali and Dana, which goes from bickering siblings to friends who want to help each other out in life. Another aspect of the maturation of Dana is her ability to recognize that after making her own bad decisions, she can stop Ali from making her own.

There’s a strong sense of female power here. Not just with the female filmmakers behind the camera, but especially with the character of Pat. She doesn’t have much of her own storyline or even a lot of scenes, but the strength that Edie Falco shows as she navigates her family’s poor decisions is inspiring. You know the Jacobs family is going to be all right after all, and there’s definitely going to be some comedy along the way.
Best of 2017
Best Lesser-known of 2017

Similar Titles:

Obvious Child