sundance film festival

Jenny Slate’s New Film Redefines the Woman Who Cheats

A scene from Landline.

After an overwhelmingly positive reception at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival for their film Obvious Child, Jenny Slate and co-writer/director Gillian Robespierre are back with Landline, a dramedy about multi-generational cheating that premiered at the festival last week.

In the movie, Slate plays a woman named Dana who, while engaged to a nice guy, jumps into an ill-advised dalliance with a friend from college. At the same time, her little sister Ali is experimenting with drugs, sex, and the seedier side of New York City in the ’90s. When Ali discovers their dad is cheating on their mom (played by Edie Falco), the sisters bond over a common goal of discovering the identity of the other woman.

In an interview with the Cut, Robespierre explained their attempt to illustrate “what it feels like to be a woman who cheats and a woman who is cheated on… That [being] cheated on doesn’t need to [make you] be a victim, and the cheater doesn’t need to be the villain.” As someone who’s cheating in her own relationship, Dana’s anger over her father’s infidelity could easily be seen as hypocritical; instead, his cheating is a means for bonding with her surly little sister.

Slate pointed out that Dana is “still allowed to be a person. You don’t have to turn away from her like she’s untouchable, because she’s been touched … I don’t really care, like, what happens to her as long as she gets a sense of being free, that she finds a way to be in this society, while being flawed and filled with questions and that she finds a way to be within some sort of partnership because she is satisfied within herself.”

Jenny Slate’s New Film Redefines the Woman Who Cheats