Landline Review – Genuinely Funny, Dynamic Character Driven Performances

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Landline, from Amazon Studios and Oddlot Entertainment, a family rom-com, set in New York City in the mid-1990’s, where romance, comedy and drama are genuinely portrayed, with finely tuned characters, sharp, witty dialogue, real dilemmas, and hysterical scenes.

Co-written and directed by Gillian Robespierre, Landline stars Jenny Slate, Edie Falco, Abby Quinn, Jay Duplass, Finn Wittrock and John Turturro and was co-writen by Elizabeth Holm.

Landline opens with Dana, played by Jenny Slate and Ben, played by Jay Duplass, attempting to have sex in the woods near her parents country home. The family is on a long weekend away from Manhattan, and Ben, since his engagement to Dana is very much a part of the family and come along.

Alan, played by John Turturro, yells out time to go. In minutes the young lovers are heading to the car, fighting with Ali, played by Abby Quinn, for a window seat as the three pile into the back and Pat, their Mom, played by Edie Falco, sits up front.

Back in Manhattan, Dana and Ben are living together, and Ali is fighting growing pains and peer pressure as 1990’s New York City is full of potential dangers even for good kids, from good homes who are bored, or just want to impress their friends.

Ali, who is experimenting with goth before it became a culture and it was just all black clothes, sneaks out of her home and heads over to her friend’s house, where they are drinking, smoking pot. A friend suggests they try something a little more potent. Unable to withstand the peer pressure she agrees and suddenly she had graduated to Heroin.

Pat and Alan have been married forever, like most marrieds who have built a life anywhere, but certainly in Manhattan the struggles of dreams, that never really die just lie dormant for a while, and when the right wind blows the dreams are revived and suddenly it’s that summer, the endless one, the one where everything seemed possible.

Alan is in the middle of that summer. A budding playwright, he and Pat are living a predictable life, which can be mundane, he writes copy for boring clients, his girls are nearly grown, the passion at home is routine.


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Ali makes it back home, stashes the clothes in the stairwell, attempts to find food and sits down at her dad’s computer. Without permission, she begins to read his poetry which talks adoringly of a woman. He addressed each to “C”.

As crisis seems to be contagious, Dana, who has a great relationship with Ben, is feeling the claustrophobic, strangulation of commitment. Out of the blue, she meets her high school sweetheart, Nate, played by Finn Wittrock, and suddenly rest of our lives Ben is in the rear view, and Dana and Nate are having sex in the theater.

Although it sounds as if the pressures of everyday life would make this movie somewhat difficult and yet Landline is very funny.


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The casting was perfect and the ensemble of actors work very well together as the family dynamics are very present. This particular brand of family which is uniquely different, born and bred New Yorker’s, writing Madison Avenue copy, having the apartment in the city and country home, is traditional for Manhattan.

Jenny Slate stands out, as each do in particular moments, as the flighty, fickle, slightly ditsy, sister, daughter, fiancée, having a crisis of commitment which oddly is what her father, John Turturro’s character, is also experiencing.

She also plays the suddenly deceitful, wild child, who is in a full blown affair while her fiancé is trying to figure out what happened. And as it all comes together, one wonders if in the cosmos of planetary alignment she is only in this moment for one reason and we find that out on Halloween.

Landline gives us a tiny glimpse into not so far back and hard to believe almost 20 years ago New York City when the technology swell of cell phones, and I-phones, and handhelds, buds and tablets weren’t the norm and people actually noticed that handsome guy or cute girl and those shoes while waiting in the Starbuck’s line.

A romantic dramedy, Landline gives us a genuine glimpse of life and for a few moments we are allowed into our troubled, funny, flawed, very emotional, family and we see how sometimes we just need to put the brakes on before we go speedy off into the land of no return.

Having the opportunity to interview Finn Wittrock who plays Nate recently. He had this to say of working the scenes with Jenny Slate, “Jenny is so spontaneous and generous, we almost immediately fell into a repartee and it was easy. It was really easy. We created the backstory as we went and probably benefited from not having rehearsal.”

Landline is an exceptional, charming film. The character driven performances make this film, genuinely funny, dynamically engaging, and purely enjoyable.

Landline opens July 21, 2017. See it.

 

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