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Review: Landline

Landline
07.18.2017
8 10

REVIEW: When a rebellious teenage girl discovers her dad may not be faithful to her mother, it begins to change the already shaky familial relations. 

PLOT: The very first time I took notice of Jenny Slate, I was an instant fan. The comedic actress has a very natural talent of creating utterly relatable characters who may be flawed, but offer a ton of heart. This was especially true with OBVIOUS CHILD, her sharp and witty collaboration with writer/director Gillian Robespierre. The story of an unplanned pregnancy proved to be a perfect fit for the filmmaker and her leading lady. That brings us to their newest feature, the touching and very funny LANDLINE. Taking place in 1995, this time Robespierre examines a family dealing with infidelity and the trials of tribulations of a family keeping secrets.

Ali (Abby Quinn) is a rebellious teenager. She deals with her older sister Dana (Jenny Slate) and her well-meaning parents Alan (John Turturro) and Pat (Edie Falco). When Ali finds a series of letters her father is sending to another woman, she is shocked and hurt by the discovery. Meanwhile, Dana is dealing with her own fears of monogamy and settling down. While she is engaged to a very kind and loving man named Ben (Jay Duplass), she finds herself attracted to an old friend named Nate (Finn Wittrock). As all the secrest the family keep hidden begin to unravel, Dana, Ali and their parents struggle to keep it all together.

LANDLINE is a lovely film. This is a family you can care about. Not a single character is perfect, but there is an undeniable connection. Much of that can be credited to this wonderful cast. While their story may not be groundbreaking or new, it is a very real and honest portrait that is made all the better thanks to the excellent performances. Edie Falco is especially engaging as a woman who must learn to cope with a rebellious teen, a daughter questioning her upcoming nuptials and a husband who may be unfaithful. What makes this so perfect is that there aren't good guy and bad guys, just a family trying to cope.

Gillian Robespierre has a very strong voice when it comes to creating solid characters trying to get their way through life. Why it works so well is the kindness she treats everyone in this story. One of the best performances comes from Jay Duplass as Dana’s loving - and extremely patient - fiance. Equally as solid is Mr. Turturro who has a way with making what could have been a very one-sided role and giving it understanding and charm. This is a family that clearly loves each other, but like all relationships, there are rocky times that are usually self created. The humor comes from a very truthful place and that makes this story all the more inviting.

Now let’s get back to the sisters. It is nearly impossible to resist the smart casting of the terrific Abby Quinn opposite Slate. The two have a very special bond that is tested… often. It is one that is also painfully awkward and frustrating, but equally as funny. While on occasion, all the relationships at times feel a bit predictable, especially with Dana’s fling with Nate, it still works well enough that you are wiling to just take it all in. This is a sweet film that rarely navigates itself into a sappy and unbelievable family dynamic. Plus, taking place in the 1995, it offers a pretty great soundtrack.

LANDLINE is a sometimes painful, yet very funny feature that takes on a familiar subject in a smart way. The cast is terrific, and it is a continued reminder of what a great pairing Ms. Slate and Gillian Robespierre have together. The real standout however may be young Abby Quinn who gives an undeniably solid portrayal of a teenager in crisis. If you are looking for something different this summer, you’d do well with LANDLINE.

Source: JoBlo.com

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