Once upon a Sundance, movies like Landline were the indie coin of the realm: talky dramedies whose bittersweet tales of bourgeois struggle and self-discovery were content to be no more or less than the sum of their quirky, privileged parts. Gen-Y director Gillian Robespierre wears her affection for that era proudly, and her sophomore effort (after 2014’s spiky, underrated Obvious Child) meets its inspirations more than halfway by actually being set in circa-1995 Manhattan — a pre-smartphone nirvana of snap-crotch bodysuits, floppy disks, and Steve Winwood sing-alongs.
Meet the messy, lovably neurotic Jacobs: Thirtyish Dana (Jenny Slate) maybe can’t stand her steady job and brick-solid fiancé (Jay Duplass); baby sister Ali (Abby Quinn) is busy maxing out her teen delinquency; John Turturro’s distracted adman dad has retreated into his own dreamworld, leaving steadfast Pat (Edie Falco) to play the designated nag. When Dana runs into an old college friend (Finn Wittrock, whose eyebrows are a clear semaphore for trouble), her quarter-life crisis finds the accelerant it needs. Slate pushes the limits of her raspy-kitten whimsy, and the ’90s nostalgia is so pervasive it nearly earns its own SAG card. But in sweetly calibrated moments — a downtown drug deal gone wrong; Falco alone under strobe lights, swaying ecstatically to Donna Summer — Landline finds the analog joy it’s reaching for. B+