by director/co-writer Gillian Robespierre
I grew up in a time when landline phones were the only way to get in touch with friends. When you had to pick a place to meet and be there. My childhood was absent of texting, posting or refreshing. I grew up in the ‘90s. I’m not a Luddite. I definitely embraced and consumed it all. I just happened to do it in my early twenties instead of fresh out of the womb. But whether you came of age with or without Wifi, communicating in the raw sense of the word is just as hard now as it was back then. No one gets off the hook there.
My co-writer Liz Holm and I didn’t set Landline in the ‘90s just to avoid social media. We are both born-and-raised New Yorkers who came of age in ‘90s and our parents divorced when we were teenagers. To us the ‘90s feel like the last moment New York was still this place that was gritty. There was also a real thriving middle class who could exist in Manhattan, many of whom can’t and don’t anymore. And now, looking back at our childhoods, it felt like the city was shifting in step with our families’ taking new shapes. There was something poetic that drew us to set the movie in the ‘90s. But we didn’t want the period to be a gimmick and made sure that if you took the ‘90s element out the story would still work. The added bonus was our story and characters could roam free without being tied to their devices.
The movie is a simple tale about a family on the brink of falling apart. A story about divorce, but rather than show a family being torn apart, we wanted to see a family grow closer through the experience, getting to know themselves and each other for the very first time. We wanted to focus on the female perspective of monogamy across multiple generations, each woman navigating this deeply complicated, at times unattainable, very messy and imperfect construct. We didn’t want to portray the cheater as the villain or the cheated as the victim. The truth is we all fuck up. We all lie. We watch our parents do something we say we’re never going to do and then we do it. We resent our partners for doing something that we then can’t help but do ourselves. Liz and I like to tell these stories that inspire empathy and show people make mistakes and try and try again. And if you laugh so hard you snarf your Cherry Coke while watching then I’m a very happy person. Hope you enjoy the movie!