“I want to work with people who are risk takers and who really care about being honest about what it’s like to be a human these days,” said Jenny Slate, Tuesday evening from the lobby of Metrograph. The actress was singing the praises of her collaborators Gillian Robespierre and Elisabeth Holm, who cowrote and directed her latest film “Landline.”
The film follows the story of two sisters, eldest Dana (played by Slate) and youngest Ali (Abby Quinn), who come together when they suspect their father of having an affair. The sisters come to understand that family is not perfect, and their own personal lives begin to crack. Dana, who Slate called “sort of a goodie-two-shoes, rather uptight, but a very kind woman, who is a little bit lost,” struggles to remain faithful to her fiancé when she is reunited with an old flame. Meanwhile, Ali, who Quinn described as “really independent, pretty badass and smart” starts experimenting beyond her comfort zone with sex and drugs.
The plotline was inspired by the childhoods of Robespierre and Holm, who collaborated on Jenny Slate’s 2014 film “Obvious Child,” and are both children of divorce.
“It brought us together, tragedy always tends to do that, and our families needed that,” Robespierre said of her own experience. “I became closer to my older brother, my father became somebody who I saw as flawed, but I still loved him, and my mother, who is a very strong lady, became more like a friend, and it forever changed our relationship — for the better!”
“Landline” is set in a simpler time (that would be 1995), when pay phones were still a necessity and everyone wasn’t glued to their smartphones. “I think for my character specifically, I would’ve been the type of teenager to just be very in her phone,” Quinn said. “So I think it would’ve been a lot more difficult for us to bond, for the sisters to actually come together at that point in their lives. It would’ve been a lot harder if I’d had instant technology and social media.”
Slate agreed, but added: “I also think a lot of the things that my character goes through are things that a lot of women go through no matter what decade they’re in. It’s just a question of how they feel comfortable to express it.”
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