Set in Manhattan in 1995, LANDLINE follows three women in one family having lots of sex, drugs, and Japanese food. Navigating monogamy, honesty, and a long-lost New York, the Jacobs family lives in the last days when people still didn't have cell phones and still did smoke inside. Teenage Ali discovers her dad's affair, her older sister Dana uncovers her own wild side, and their mother Pat grapples with the truth that she can't have it all, but her family still has each other. For a generation raised on divorce and wall-to-wall carpeting, LANDLINE is an honest comedy about what happens when sisters become friends and parents become humans.
Jenny Slate shines in this relationships comedy-drama
"Landline" (2017 release; 93 min.) brings the story of the Jacobs family. As the movie opens, we are reminded that it is "Labor Day, 1995". The family (husband Alan, wife Pat, grown-up daughter Dana and her fiancé Ben, and HS senior Ali) are driving back to New York City from their country estate. Everyone settles back in: Dana works are an indie newspaper, and Ali is supposed to start her last year of high school but has drugs on her mind more than books. It's not long that Ali finds out that dad (Alan) may be having an affair, much to the horror of Ali and Dana. Meanwhile, Dana bumps into an ex-boyfriend at a party she is attending with Ben. At this point we're not even 15 min. into the movie. What will become of all these characters? To tell you more of the plot would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this movie marks the reunion of writer-director Gillian Robespierre and producer-actress Jenny Slate, who previously collaborated on "Obvious Child" (Slate's break-out role). Here they bring another movie that is billed as a comedy, but in reality is just as much a relationships drama. And there is plenty of drama (biting my lip--mustn't spoil!). Of course there are plenty of lighter moments too. One can't help but smile when we see Dana check her voice mail by calling from a public phone, and many other such 90s-specific things. Jenny Slater once again shines in this movie, and it is her character that seems most authentic--in contrast to her sister Ali, who is supposed to be a HS senior, but comes across much older. John Turturro (as Alan) and Jay DuPlass (as Ben) are in fine form as well. Bottom line, this movie kept my attention from start to finish, and I wasn't quite ready to say goodbye to these characters when the end titles started rolling, the surest sign that I enjoyed this movie quite a bit.
"Landline" premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival to positive buzz. The movie finally opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and I couldn't wait to see it. The Saturday matinée screening where I saw this at was attended okay but not great (about 10 people). Hopefully this movie will benefit from positive word-of-mouth as well as wider exposure on VOD, and eventually on DVD/Blu-ray. "Landline" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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