Review: LANDLINE (2017) 'the duo behind the 2014 romcom Obvious Child return to tackle infidelity'


Joseph Friar

By Joseph Friar
Aug. 11, 2017 at 10:07 a.m.


Jenny Slate, John Turturro, Edie Falco, Abby Quinn, Jay Duplass, Finn Wittrock

Directed by Gillian Robespierre 

Writer-director Gillian Robespierre and actress Jenny Slate, the team responsible for Obvious Child, the 2014 romcom about a comedian struggling with an abortion, team up once again for “Landline” a dramedy that tackles the issue of infidelity.  The film features a great cast led by the trio of Slate, Falco, and Quinn and a soundtrack that pays tribute to the 90’s. 

It’s Labor Day 1995 where we find Dana (Jenny Slate) and her fiancé Ben (Jay Duplass) attempting to have sex in the woods but they keep getting interrupted by the “woodland creatures.”  Next, we meet the rest of Dana’s family, parents Alan and Pat (John Turturro and Edie Falco) and younger sister Ali (Abby Quinn) as they belt out Steve Winwood’s Higher Love while driving back home to Manhattan after the holiday weekend.  The song leads to an argument about the lyrics in a funny scene that captures the essence of the lively Jacobs family. 

Dana and Ben seem perfectly fit for each other but when she runs into Nate (Finn Wittrock), a hot friend from her college days, the two rekindle an old flame.  He wants a “nice Jewish girl to watch Mad About You with him on the couch” and she’s having doubts about her engagement to Ben.  The sparks really start to fly after she sneaks off with Nate to catch a movie about Hitler, because nothing spells romance like Nazis. 

 Meanwhile, Alan and Pat’s marriage has grown stale.  His attempts at romance are not reciprocated and she has no interest in his aspirations to be a playwright.  Pat may come off as cold but she is in 100% mom mode thanks to her teenage daughter Ali, a high school senior who sneaks out to attend rave parties, experiments with heroin, and sleeps with her classmate Jed (Marquis Rodriguez). 

When Ali accidentally finds poetry on her dad’s computer written to a mystery woman she alerts Dana and the sisters go into detective mode while contemplating whether they should tell their mom.  Emotional sustenance is lacking in their parent’s relationship and while Ali is distressed about her dad’s infidelity, Dana seems less troubled by it, maybe it’s because she is also cheating on Ben.  

“Landline” features great performances by the cast and I’m a sucker for Slate’s goofy laugh.  You can’t lose with Turturro and Falco on board, it’s a real pleasure watching them together.  My favorite performance in the film belongs to Abby Quinn who is a knockout as the outspoken 17-year old. It’s a natural performance that captures the angst of a teenager rapidly approaching adulthood.  The film also serves as an ode to the 90s when people still used payphones, computers with floppy disks, and of course there was the music.  The soundtrack features some great tracks from Natalie Merchant, The Pavement, Crystal Waters, The Breeders, PJ Harvey, and Stacy Q.                                                                                                            

(3 ½ stars) 

Now playing at Edwards Greenway Grand Palace and AMC Studio in Houston.  The film is playing in Austin at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, Regal Arbor 8 @ Great Hills, and AFS Cinema.



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