Based purely on how I felt about the first feature film that Gillian Robespierre and Jenny Slate made together, my hopes couldn’t have been lower for Landline. However, I did decide to give it a chance and was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Not only was it a legitimately well-rounded movie, it illustrates why it’s important for filmmakers to get more chances to develop and work on their craft.
Robespierre second feature film stars Jenny Slate and Abby Quinn as a pair of sisters who have a lot going on right now. To add onto their hectic lives, they find out that their father (John Turturro) may be cheating on their mother (Edie Falco). While trying their best not to get found out by either parent, the two attempt to uncover the truth while being forced to face their own personal issues concerning life, the future and even fidelity in one of their own relationships.
Just to be clear, the first movie that these two women worked on together didn’t contain anything that I could consider a positive feature. And although it was supposed to be a comedy, that actually was easily one of the worst parts. This was one of the many reasons why I wasn’t sure about Landline. While this also isn’t what I would consider funny, I did however find far more positives about their movie this time around. In fact, the positives easily outweigh the negatives.
Much of that has to do with how it’s all handled. Unlike their previous partnership, Landline is built around characters that are realistic and have qualities that allow them to respond to life with believable behaviors and attitudes. This improvement allows for Landline to provide a consistently honest depiction of humans that viewers can actually relate to or at least understand.
You can’t really love any of the characters, but you understand them and love how they’re portrayed. Unlike that other thing that Robespierre and Slate created that was released back in 2014, you see the characters make bad and/or selfish decisions that actually have consequences. In this world, the people here are held to some kind of standards as they would be if this were real. That’s what makes this believable. And for someone such as myself, I appreciate when films like this are able to do that.
Although it fails as a comedy, Landline works its way to becoming what I would consider a light-hearted drama about serious issues in actual human relationships. In that sense, Landline works as well as just about any drama that you will see in 2017. That isn’t what I expected before seeing it, but I’m happy to say that the effort to use authenticity pays off for those involved.
Much of what works here has to do with the casting. The chemistry between them feels as legit as you would hope. Since it centers around a dysfunctional family of four, it’s important that they all feel connected to one another the way that type of family should. Although they have a bond that’s been damaged for one reason or another, you’re still convinced that they’re all just a part of a banged up unit who has spent years with each other.
Why it was based in the 90s, I have no idea. What I do know is that Landline does almost everything right. I absolutely hate when comedies can’t provide anything to laugh at, but I had to give this a pass overall since it delivers on so much more in just about every other aspect. I don’t know if it will get a great deal of attention, but it deserves to be noticed to some degree. Whatever happens, I just appreciate what it has to offer and that it’s not another waste of time. We get far too many of those these days.
Director: Gillian Robespierre
Film Length: 96 minutes
July 21, 2017 (Limited)
July 28, 2017 (Expanded)
Distributor: Amazon Studios
- Score - 7.5/107.5/10