Set in Manhattan in 1995, Gillian Robespierre's Landline is a story of family dysfunction, detailing the Jacobs' family whom appears to be coming apart at the seams, as various members struggle to strike the right balance between personal fulfillment and familial obligations. While every member is going through a personal crisis of sorts, Landline focuses on the two siblings of the household, Ali and Dana, whom soon discover that their dad is having an affair. Landline is an honest and mature comedy about marriage, love, family, and identity, a film that wisely doesn't attempt to make broad stroke moral assertions. never vilifying any of its character's for their poor decisions, understanding that human emotions are messy and honesty about this is paramount to reaching a better place of forgiveness, acceptance, and peace. While Dana uncovers her own wild side of sexual freedom and lustful aggression, teenage Ali is stuck in the middle of adolescent malaise, a character who wants more personal freedom from her perceived overbearing mother and father, lashing out through skipping school and sporadic drug use in an attempt to feel like an independent adult. While many of characterizations of the film are relatively multi-dimensioned, Landline's biggest fault is how much time it dedicates to Ali, whose personal struggles are the most conventional and uninteresting in the film. She is really the only characterization that has the stench of "we've seen this character before", a rebellious adolescent whom is surrounded by much more interesting characters. The lens for the audience is through the two siblings, yet I couldn't help but wish the film would have spent more time detailing the frigid and increasingly broken relationship between Alan and Pat, a couple who've grown further and further apart, with Alan resorting to having an affair in some poor attempt to feel alive and desired again. Perhaps the most salient assertion Landline is able to produce is the absolute necessity of personal identity, detailing through this dysfunctional family how healthy relationships and love are best formed when each individual is comfortable with themselves. Landline as a film wholly acknowledges how difficult it truly is as individuals to discover and comprehend exactly what we want, yet acknowledges the importance of this, particularly when it comes to family and the general search for companionship or love. Charming, funny, and sincere, Landline's ensemble effectively taps into existential questions about personal doubt, worth, and ambition, deconstructing what a family truly is - a group of individuals with their own feelings, dreams, and ambitions, whom love each other despite their differences in what they want personally out of life.
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