Like many Americans, I saw Lady Bird more than once (it's been out in the US a while; UK release date February 16). I even wrote an article with my mum about it. It's a good movie! It deserves all the awards! But don't come for me when I say that it was not my favourite movie of 2017. By the time I sat down to watch the Greta Gerwig-directed drama, my heart had already been won by another story about mothers and daughters and family, but that didn't get any recognition from award shows at all: Landline.
I'll admit that Landline's genetic makeup feels tailored specifically to me, with Obvious Child creator Gillian Robespierre as both the writer and director, Jenny Slate as the star, and a Duplass brother as a love interest (Jay, specifically). When sisters Dana (Slate) and Ali (Abby Quinn) discover that their father (John Turturro) is cheating on their mother (Edie Falco), they must mend their dysfunctional relationship in an effort to get to the bottom of it. Set in the '90s, the movie is just so pleasant to watch, hurts in all the right ways, and ends with the three main characters sitting on the floor of the bathroom smoking cigarettes. The stories of the three women intersect perfectly — not in a ham-fisted, Love Actually kind of way, but in a way that rounds out the narrative to be not about one person in particular, but instead how the push and pull of each of their lives forms a family you'll definitely recognise.
In my dreams, directors Robespierre and Gerwig get coffee on the regular, and cook up their next ideas for female-focused dramedies that get to the heart of simple but powerful issues. But also in my dreams, Robespierre gets proper recognition for it. Lady Bird and its cast has already won thirteen awards, with more certainly to come at this year's Oscars. Aside from its nomination for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Landline is up for none.
Following its release, publications like The Atlantic, the Boston Globe, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone were underwhelmed. What do we look for when we look for a movie about mothers and daughters? What made Lady Bird soar with the critics, but Landline fall flat? This certainly isn't intended to pit the two against each other — actually, it's the opposite. In an ideal world, both movies would be welcomed to the stage, the way two movies about the battle of Dunkirk (Darkest Hour and, uh, Dunkirk) are competing for Oscars Best Picture.
After I saw Landline, I left the cinema glowing, but I started to question my own sense of self and taste when critics weren't seeing what I saw: a smart, neatly-packaged movie with performances from Slate and Falco that steal the show. The kind of movie you can (as I do) put on in your living room while you putter around making dinner, later sitting down to eat and catching the end of the movie, just in time for you to be inspired to call your mum before bed. There's an Oscar category for that, right?
Landline is available now on Amazon Prime.
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