Landline Jenny Slate, Abby Quinn, Edie Falco. Directed by Gillian Robespierre. Rated R. Opens Friday at Village Square.
Set, delightfully but for no apparent reason, in 1995, Gillian Robespierre’s Landline is a laid-back comedy about a family in slow-motion distress, and it takes a little while to put all its pieces in place. Even if it’s not as bracing as Robespierre’s first collaboration with star Jenny Slate, 2014’s Obvious Child, it’s still warm and funny and heartfelt, with great affection for both its characters and its era. Recalling Woody Allen’s better movies of the same time period, Landline stars Slate as Dana Jacobs, a fledgling music journalist who hasn’t quite figured out how to be an adult.
Struggling in her relationship with her well-meaning boyfriend (Jay Duplass), Dana moves back into her family’s New York City apartment, where she bonds with her teenage sister Ali (Abby Quinn) and feels caught in the middle of her parents’ possibly crumbling marriage. The movie is more about family togetherness than it is about secrets and lies, though, and Robespierre creates a messy and relatable set of characters in the Jacobs family (including John Turturro and Edie Falco as the parents). Slate and newcomer Quinn have fabulous chemistry as sisters, and while Dana has plenty of romantic troubles, the sibling bond is what gives the movie its charm and appeal.