The Painter and the Thief
On the Record
Forgot your password?
Don't have an account? Sign up here
Already have an account? Log in here
and the Terms and Policies,
and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango.
Please enter your email address and we will email you a new password.
We encourage our community to report abusive content and/ or spam. Our team will review flagged items and determine whether or not they meet our community guidelines.
Please choose best explanation for why you are flagging this review.
Thank you for your submission. This post has been submitted for our review.
Sincerely, The Rotten Tomatoes Team
While I enjoyed the performances from this talented cast, I walked away with mixed messages on the film's position on cheating in relationships. I liked individual scenes, but ultimately couldn't get behind [SPOILER] the Jenny Slate cheating plotline. Her chemistry with the man she has an affair with is electric, so much so that even though I supported her revelation that he was not the one for her, her return to her boring passionless relationship left something to be desired. Particularly in a film that is about the affect of her father's affair on their family.
I would add more stars if not for the two rape scenes that are played for laughs. I guess a woman forcing herself on to her confused and unwilling male partner is just an act of quirkiness, like getting an eyebrow ring or being a grown adult and ordering a kids drink at your favorite hibachi restaurant! God, I miss the '90s.
It's a canny film that stretches out a plot made of relatively few events and still makes it a pleasure to watch. Such is the way of this mellow dramedy. The cast are all uniformly good, the script makes each scene interesting to be a part of even if it doesn't rocket along with agency and the film ends up being a refreshingly grown up look at infidelity. It's a little too intentionally cute at times, and the meandering plot certainly loses a steam at the end of the film (as often happens with these films that don't have a strong structure to rely on), but it's an enjoyable ride with a lovely relationship between sisters at its core. Plus it's set in the 90s, which allows for a lot of enjoyable (though not distracting) nostalgia. Stone washed denim! Actual phones! Higher Love by Steve Winwood!
Doesn't really do anything you haven't seen before, and the script is a bit messy in places. But the direction is good and all the performances are really heartfelt. Much like Obvious Child, the director's previous film, it's not as funny as I expected but it is worth your attention.
- In Landline, real life is funny, even when it's not. -
I have a pretty dysfunctional family. In fact, when I came out of the theater after seeing Landline, I had a text from my sister with a fresh family crisis waiting for me. So I kind of get this movie, to say the least.
While dysfunctional-family-life often is quite devastating, in my experience, most of the time, even the crappiest moments are received with some indifference, and always with humor. Landline paints that picture. There's disillusionment, regret, sorrow, but there's also jokes, smiles, and even dancing.
All four members of the Jacobs family in Landline have learned how to lead their complicated lives with a good amount of comedy. Dana (Jenny Slate, Obvious Child) is engaged, but she's feeling unsure about her decision, and finds herself drawn to the arms of an ex. Ali (Abby Quinn) is a teenager trying to keep her balance while experimenting with all manner of waywardness. Pat (Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie) is a great mom who has to balance caring for her family with caring for herself. And Alan (John Turturro, Barton Fink) is a writer who, Ali discovers, is having an affair with someone he addresses as 'C' in his love poems.
Movies about a modern family falling apart have become pretty common by now, but there is little that is common about this one. For one, it's about a Jewish-Italian family living in 1990's New York. The 90's decade is pretty unexplored these days, so it was interesting to watch a movie set during this time. A friend of mine likes to say that the 80's decade was the party, and the 90's was the hangover. Landline takes place in this tension, between the recklessness of the party and the malaise of the hangover. Cheat on your wife, cheat on your fiancee, take drugs, but, as Lorde sings, "What will we do when we're sober?" It's the 90's, but it's also the 2010's!
I love the way this story unfolds. Oftentimes, in my life, even significant crises have not taken place in big, dramatic events, but can actually be somewhat mundane (or am I just that jaded? lol). Similarly, things don't usually happen in big moments in Landline. It would be difficult to point out the precise transitions between setting, conflict, rising action, etc. Even when Ali discovers her dad's affair, or when Dana hooks up with her ex, there is a quality of ordinariness to it. This helped give the movie a 'real life' feel.
Writers Elisabeth Holm and Gillian Robespierre said in an interview that this was precisely their goal. They wanted everything to feel as real life as possible. Their script reflects this goal entirely. Instead of getting exciting moments that signal new phases in the film, we just hang out with Dana and Ali the whole time, experiencing their life along the way, and, I should add, it's really great!
Slate and Quinn as Dana and Ali carry the movie so well. Their chemistry is perfect, and we spend a lot of time with their characters as they bicker, joke around, dance, and reflect on everything that's happening. Exactly like siblings do.
I had only seen Jenny Slate in Parks and Recreation, where her character Mona Lisa is a wild, hilarious caricature. In Landline, however, she has so much depth. Holm and Robespierre explicitly wrote this character for Slate, and even developed the character with her. And it shows.
Dana chides her sister for doing drugs and breaking rules, and yet she encounters her own unruly side in her own life. She is really funny, sometimes in a witty way, and at other times in an almost slapstick way. Dana is so full of life that a lot of the joy of watching the film just comes from observing her. The wildness of Mona Lisa from Parks & Rec is still there, but with an additional Tina Fey-like wit, and the pain of real life. "I'm flailing," she confesses to her dad, and we see it all.
I think my favorite thing about the movie is that it does depict real life, but not in an overly devastating way. I know personally the feeling of discovering infidelity in my family, the guilt of cheating on someone, and the malaise of parents separating. Just about every theme of this movie hit home for me, and at no point did I think, "It was way worse than that!" On the contrary, the film's lasting humor rang just as true as its drama.
While directors often try to depict real life by showing devastating or depressing 'realities', Landline depicts what, to me, is even more realistic. It shows us that humor is as much a part of mourning as pain is, laughter as much a part of suffering as tears.
So, excuse me, I'm going to go watch Obvious Child now.
This review was first published on Narrative Muse, http://narrativemuse.co/movies/landline, and was written by Jack Holloway. Narrative Muse curates the best books and movies by and about women and non-binary folk on our website http://narrativemuse.co and our social media channels.
Engaging but typical love story.
A pretty movie about real life shit. Well acted
The movie didn't really get me into the 90's nostalgia that I expected. The movie title wasn't very applicable. The film was just okay overall.
Nice little conversational family drama / comedy...
Uncomfortable at times, but overall a good, well-made movie.