Chances are, we’ll being seeing more indie films like Gillian Robespierre’s Landline set in the pre-smartphone-and-social-media era. Quite coincidentally, the film is set the same year that the hopelessly outdated cyber-thrillers Hackers and The Net were released, also the last year anyone used the word “cyber-thriller” with a straight face. In 1995 Manhattan, 20-something Dana (Jenny Slate) and her teenage sister Ali (Abby Quinn) begin to suspect that their father Alan (John Turturro) is cheating on their mother Pat (Edie Falco), thanks to the 1.4-MB floppy of apparent love letters that Alan left in the family Macintosh, a discovery that sends both Dana and Ali into their own spirals of infidelity and bad behavior.
The time period allows for Dana and her fiancé Ben (Jay Duplass) to go two weeks without any contact simply due to her not picking up the phone, what with no social media to facilitate stalking. There are also plenty of “Hey, it’s the 1990s!” jokes and displays of antiquated technology, such as mixtapes that are actually on tape or voicemail being checked via a payphone — and some of us who were there may remember the supreme buzzkill of a CD player starting to skip during sex. Say what you will about digital music, but it’s nice to not worry about that anymore.
Opens Friday at the AMC Metreon 16 and the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas.