Saturday, October 7, 2017

[Review] Landline

In 2014 writer-director Gillian Robespierre delivered the great indie dramedy, Obvious Child. Now, she continues that same spirit with Landline, a '90s-tinged romp about a dysfunctional family.

The story revolves around Dana (Jenny Slate) and her little sister Ali (Abby Quinn) as they begin to bond for the first time, ironically, after they find out their father (played by John Turturro) is having a steamy affair. Dana and Ali attempt to keep it a secret from their mother (Edie Falco), and all the while, they're dealing with some mishaps and crossroads within their own lives.

First off, this thing is hilarious. Like Obvious Child, it dives head-first into some boisterously embarrassing moments and it has a refreshingly open embrace of toilet humor. The script is stuffed with snappy, brash, and sisterly bicker-y dialogue. Here's just one of my favorite exchanges: "You're like a little piece of toilet paper that gets stuck to someone's shoe!" / "Well, you're like the embodiment of constipation!" Jenny Slate again proves to be a pleasant screen presence, embodying her spunky character with laughs, likability, relatability, self-aware flaws, and genuine emotion. And of course, you can never really go wrong with John Turturro or Edie Falco.

And even though this takes place in the '90s, it doesn't try to feel like a film that was made in the '90s. Instead, the decade plays more of a nostalgic backdrop: the alternative rock soundtrack... the once bland and almost rudimentary look of computer desktops... and yes--the reminder of what it's like to call someone on a landline phone (whoa!). The tone is light and zippy, and it does have more of an episodic vibe, like it could be a TV series that fits somewhere between ABC and Showtime.

So while it doesn't hit the high notes of Obvious Child, Landline is still a bittersweet little film that's all about the messy complications of life, and the static that gets in the way.

( 7.5/10 )

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