“Landline,” the pleasingly spiky and confident second feature directed and co-written by Gillian Robespierre (“Obvious Child”), is set in Manhattan in the long-ago, far-away, now-exotic year of 1995, and it’s fun to hook into the movie’s vibe — the references to slam poetry and Lorena Bobbitt and eyebrow rings and Must-See TV, to renting “Curly Sue” at Blockbuster (and actually thinking it’s funny), to Hillary Clinton as a fashion role model, to second-hand CD stores with world-music listening stations.
Dana lives with her fiancé, Ben (Jay Duplass), whom she loves, and the two are ahead of the curve in adopting a “Mad About You”-and-chill lifestyle, but part of her is asking, and wisely: Is this all there is?“The callers were male, and they weren’t young men.They denied making the calls despite the caller ID. If we didn’t take the phone off the hook, the phone would keep ringing. “Gardaí did their job 100 percent, and all I could do was get rid of the landline.But there’s another, deeper reason for the ’90s setting, which is that it’s the first moment of something — a new kind of casually aggressive, bombs-away style of freedom for young women, one that gives them enough intoxicating choices that they don’t quite know what to do with them.(Think “Girls ’95: The Groundbreakers.”) “Landline” centers on two sisters: Dana (Jenny Slate), who’s in her late twenties and works as a layout artist at Paper magazine, and Ali (Abby Quinn), a high-school senior and increasingly reckless club kid who still lives at home, but acts like she has the divine right to be out on her own.
There’s always been a brand of Sundance comedy that’s out to capture authentic behavior but is too cutely patterned and sitcom-y (“The Way, Way Back,” “Pieces of April”).