'Landline' Team Talks Toll of Lies, Infidelity in '90s-Set Dramedy
At the New York premiere, Jenny Slate, John Turturro and Abby Quinn spoke about the movie's message of resilience.
The team behind the well-received indie Obvious Child — star Jenny Slate, writer-director Gillian Robespierre and writer Elisabeth Holm — has reunited for a second film, this time tackling the truths behind awkward familial relationships in the '90s-set Amazon studios movie Landline.
One of those huge truths actually comes in the form of some lies, with the storyline centering around two similar-but-different issues with infidelity in two of the characters' relationships. Dana (Slate) is stuck in a boring engagement she's not sure she wants to pursue and finds solace in an ex-boyfriend. At the same time, her teenage sister, Ali (Abby Quinn), stumbles across a computer file — via a floppy disk — containing erotic love letters from her father (John Turturro) to a mysterious woman who goes by "C."
"I think everybody lies. Everybody hides. No one can know another person completely," Turturro told The Hollywood Reporter at Tuesday's New York premiere of Landline, "Then you see what the ramifications are, how it hurts the other people. That's the big thing."
After having these experiences firsthand, the cast looks at such lies and family dysfunction on a different level.
Slate's character gets a taste of what it feels like to be a cheater and to watch a parental relationship fade away because of deceit.
"I think it's really interesting to see our movie as a way to understand the ripple effect that family members have on each other," Slate said. "Even if you think that you're a 55-year-old man and your personal life won't affect your 17-year-old daughter's view of what it's like to be in a relationship, that's certainly wrong."
Ultimately, though, Robespierre says, her film shows the ability humans have to be resilient, even when it feels like the world is coming to an end.
"I hope that people feel less alone and can relate to these characters and also know that there is hope," the writer-director told THR. "Families reshape, and you can make mistakes and it won't be the end of your life."
Quinn added, "I think it's just about open communication, and if you can work through a lie that you've told, or if it's cheating or deceit, I think it's just about being honest with your partner."
The film touches on difficult subjects, like divorce, and features characters making a few human missteps.
Turturro said he initially wasn't comfortable playing someone cheating on his wife.
"I wanted to make sure there was a humanity to that, because people do that all the time," he explained.
As for her character, Slate said, "I'm proud to play a woman who does make mistakes. She is neither good nor bad because she makes these mistakes. She is still allowed to be complex.”
Landline hits theaters Friday.