I had such high hopes for Landline. I mean it stars some of my favorite actresses such as Jenny Slate and Edie Falco. Also John Turturro is always good in any film he's ever in. It's from of the same director of the edgy film that I liked in 2014 Obvious Child, and it's set in 1995 Manhattan, a time, if not a place, that I’m actually acquainted with. So you can understand how it pains me to say that I really didn’t care for this film as a whole. There are some great moments but they are just that blips along the walk to the credits.
The movie follows the Jacobs family as they converge on the growing pains that most families go through when kids grow up. Pat (Edie Falco), and Alan (John Turturro), are the estranged parents of two girls. Ali (Abby Quinn), is the disaffected youngest who’s about to go off to college. Dana (Jenny Slate), is the oldest who’s engaged to Ben (Jay Duplass) and not as excited about it as she should be. So she has an affair with her old boyfriend Ned (Finn Wittrock), and crashes back home as she tries to figure out what she really wants. As this is happening Ali stumbles across the fact that their dad is having and affair as well.
They don’t have cell phones or social media to bury their heads in so they actually have to interact with one another as each of them is freaking out over the choices they’ve made about how to live their lives. It’s messy because people are messy. There are no truly bad people, just people behaving badly. With all this to work with I felt that the film could not figure out if it wanted to be an edgy look at family life or a sentimental snapshot of a not too distant past. I think it would have worked better not trying to do both.
As I said, there’re some great moments in Landline it was kind of like going to a musical. One where the music is catchy and there are some killer duets but the bits between the songs just doesn’t work. I really enjoyed the awkward settings between the sisters as they hang out and grow closer like I would enjoy the cool tap-dance sequence of a show. And the spectacle between Dana and her betrayed fiancé Ben is aching and rings true, like the love ballads in all musicals do. However, the scene between Pat and Allen, when she finally confronts her husband about his infidelity is like a great big duet showstopper of a song that brings the house down at the end of a show on Broadway. It’s almost worth the price of admission all by itself. I only wish the movie could have kept that kind of momentum up for the full run of the show.
Directed By: Gillian Robespierre
Written By: Gillian Robespierre, Elisabeth Holm
Running Time: 1 hr 33min
Limited Release: July 27th at the Angelika Theaters
Starring: Jenny Slate, Edie Falco, Abby Quinn, John Turturro, Jay Duplass, Finn Wittrock