“Landline”: A Written Review of a Flick You Probably Don’t Know

Posted: August 6th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Ruminations | No Comments »

There are certainly stressful life situation as painful and taxing as those arising from the nuclear family dynamic, but . . .

. . . there are a whole lot of folks who would argue those are the worst.

The blood connection that’s supposed to mean bonding and acceptance. The closeness of living proximity that magnifies every quirk and irritation. How the most insignificant of moments, a perceived slight, a habit that irritates, can fester into tension and discord.

Ah, who didn’t suffer those family dinners, where nary a word was uttered, not even praise for mom’s fried chicken and chocolate cake?

So, such scenarios have long been a staple of small films, indies that deal with the personal instead of flaming cars parachuting out of jets, or Vegas jaunts gone wacky.

A lot of times, these cinematic attempts simply gnaw. Most trek to to the cineplex to be “entertained,” not to have their lives and family imbroglios pass before them on the silver screen. A refillable bucket of popcorn is not therapy replacement.

But, if the plot is legit, and incidents of family disarray are portrayed in a manner that rings true, in a way that resonates but also provides perspective, where the humor of those situations can peek through, well, those films work. Sometimes.vacuous

At least they do for me.

Which “Landline” did.

It is 1995 in Manhattan. John Turturro and Edie Falco are mired in an increasingly vacuous middle age marriage. Love is there, but long forgot.

Daughter Jenny Slate is off living with her intended Jay Duplass. She is happy, she, uh, guesses, though some doubts creep in when she runs into an old college pal. Daughter Abby Quinn is suitably and naturally rebellious. Cutting school. Experimenting with drugs. Having sex with her pal, who may or may not be a boyfriend.

So there’s the set up. The plot deals with infidelity, but it really doesn’t matter whom, how or why, it’s simply a device to show how the characters interact.

Which they do in a manner oh so true.

There were any number of scenes that seemed to have been pulled from my songbook.

I’ve been there. She or he said exactly that. That’s precisely what I did.

Which is to offer that as slight as this film is, it is filled with wise and knowing observations.

The sisters bicker. The sisters connect.

Daughter decries dad’s infidelity. Daughter emulates dad.

“Landline,” a tight little endeavor — it times in at a tidy ninety minutes — ends on a positive note, perhaps too much so. But that matters not, because the pleasure is in how matters play out along the way, the familiar interludes that ring been there done and felt that.

— c d kaplan

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