Tuesday, July 18th was a celebratory night as Landline is premiered at Manhattan’s Metrograph. It is set to hit select theaters July 21st and everywhere on August 4th.
Landline is a movie set in the 90s in New York City. This is a movie about two sisters who find out that their father (played by John Turturro) is having an affair.
The movie takes us on a journey with sisters Dana (played by Jenny Slate) and Ali (played by Abby Quinn) as they find out the ‘truth’ about their father and essentially, their parents’ relationship. In the process, they end up finding out and realizing more about themselves, one another and their dynamic as a family.
This movie is an “honest comedy”. In addition to the hilarious moments that left the theatre in unanimous laughter. There were several real and heart-wrenching moments that made the audience think a little deeper.
That balance between being honest/real and comedic is a true testament to the artistry of the actors as well. As they were able to shift from emotion to emotion while staying true to the character and the heart of the story.
We caught up with the director, writers and some of the stars of the film.
Gillian Robespierre is the director of Landline as well as the co-writer alongside Elizabeth holm.
Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to set the film in 1995? The inspiration behind writing the script?
Gillian Robespierre: Yeah, it’s set in ’95 because it’s loosely based on my life. My co-writer Elizabeth Holm and I, both came of age in New York City in the 90s. We shared a similar experience where our parents told us that they were going to get a divorce when we were seniors in high-school. What happened was kind of magical. It brought us together instead of tear us apart. So you know, it was a nice bonding moment in our families and then a bonding moment in Liz and I’s relationship. Where we were able to talk about our experiences and put them into this story.
Elizabeth Holm: Gillian and I are both born and raised New Yorkers. We grew up here in the 90s. Our families went through divorce. We both had a similar thing happen where we realized that actually this thing kind of made us get to know our parents as humans and our siblings as friends. It was really painful and complicated but we also really grew from the experience and kind of grew closer to our family in the process. We really wanted to flip the divorce narrative on its ass and show a family come together. I was also writing this the summer I was getting married and thinking a lot about monogamy and marriage and the choices that we make and knowing that we have to actively choose them. Being a child of divorce, I never thought I’d get married and then I did. So, I think all of that plus wine, and pajamas and coffee and cigarettes, got us to this movie here, and I’m very grateful for it.
When asked about the message that they wish would be taken away from this film. The answers were eclectically diverse from the cast. As we heard from director Gillian Robespierre, Actress Jenny Slate (who plays Dana) and Marquis Rodriguez (who plays Jed).
Gillian Robespierre: If you’re going through questioning who you are, unsure about where you belong, unsure about what you need in your relationship and unable to find freedom within it, your parents are getting divorced, if you’re getting divorced. Hopefully this movie makes you feel a little less alone.
Jenny Slate: There are many messages that are woven into this film. But I think one of them is, that if we don’t allow ourselves to ask questions, we will most likely make some odd mistakes that the inner voice eventually wants to come out and that, is a good thing.
Marquis Rodriguez: I spent the most time with Abby and Ali, around that character, and I think what I got from that was just to take your time and be a kid and figure it out. It’ll get messy and it’ll get strange and you might end up hurting someone’s feelings, but as long as you’re doing what you need to do for you, then you’re on the right track.
Abby Quinn and Jenny Slate were the two sisters in the film. When asked about what they gained as actresses working on this film. They had some profound words to share.
Jenny Slate: I think I became a better listener. I also think I became a gentle and more open hearted person. Because in order to play this character, I had to truly understand why she would be a person who sort of causes some damage. I had to be able to see her as complex and not just as sort of an agent of destruction. So, it opened me up. I really opened me up.
Abby Quinn: I definitely learned a lot from the fellow actors, Jenny, Edie and John. And they’re all very different actors too so I think from each of them I learned how important it is to just base a lot of it off your personal experience and your own instincts. Or else, it will become a very generic performance and a generic story. A lot of it does ties into who you are. No matter how different the character is, there has to be something rooted in you in some way. I think they all do a really good job of that, no matter what character they’re playing. They’re all very normal people. I know I’ve heard stories about other actors, like some of my friends working with other actors who for some reason are the opposite of that where they’re guarded and not willing to have a relationship outside of filming. But they’re not like that at all.
Marquis Rodriguez and Abby Quinn’s characters were ‘sort-of’ boyfriend and girlfriend in the movie. When asked about their biggest challenge when filming, here’s what they had to say.
Abby Quinn: I wanted to make sure that the character that I play, Ali, that she isn’t pigeon-holed into this angry teenager angst girl, because there’s a lot more to her. Beneath all the anger, there’s a lot of terrible things going on in her family and she’s just really lonely and it’s coming out. Going into it, I was worried it would come off that way.
Marquis Rodriguez: I think that Jed was very in his body. There’s a club scene where he’s dancing and stuff and that’s not me. That was very challenging for me to be in this club environment and pretend that I can actually get down, which I can’t at all.
This movie was very female dominated from women behind the camera to women in front of the camera. We’ll leave you with some words on collaboration from director Gillian Robespierre who said that:
“Collaborating with women who are strong, and push you and who make you feel empowered and safe, is the best way to collaborate really.”
So, here’s to the celebration of Landline’s premiere and to more hope that women in film continue to collaborate and grow in numbers.