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A coming of age dramedy where infidelity, real estate, and Lyme disease have two families falling apart on Long Island in the early eighties. Scott, 15, is at the point in his life when he finds out that the most important people around him, his father, his mother, and his brother, are not exactly who he thought they were. They are flawed and they are human.

September 08, 2008

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Reviewed by mutuel

At the Movies

Lymelife (14A) * * * *

Slow Burn!


Dreams die hard. No holds barred dialogue, rough around the edges characters and an I’m all right Jack attitude make Lymelife a film perfect for these rather hardened times.
Most of us have a dream to succeed. Past films flirted with the American dream come undone. To this list should be added Lymelife, a searing look at some messed up families from Cinemavault Pictures sure to ruffle some feathers. Co-writer and first time director Derick Martini leaves no stone unturned and goes for the jugular to initiate onlookers into the messed up world of two decidedly different families. Ripe to be sampled at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas, Lymelife comes up as having some unconventional characters with interesting traits but a few common threads many of us ought to be able to relate to.

Two families provide plenty of angst in this 95 minute drama. One is successful, the other not. Age differences also come into play big time here as we have young people willing to experiment and older people also willing to try new things. Loved ones get caught up in the cross fire as things begin to unravel in a hurry.

Maybe too many issues are being tackled in this movie. On the one hand, we have the super successful Bartlett clan with two sons vying for attention. Contrast this upscale family with the times being faced by the down on their luck Braggs. People will be able to identify with the plight of both families and many may be enamoured by the material riches of the Bartletts. Money, as the classic Beatles song goes, can’t buy me love. Also, I thought we had been done with all the Iraq war business, but apparently not; one of our fair-haired boys is with the military, only here it’s not played out as good as in many other films that came out last year.

Solid performances make us care about the people in Lymelife – or despise them. Two actors, however, stand out above the others who all take their parts to heart and do good jobs with them. Smug as ever Alec Baldwin (Malice) will doubtlessly ruffle some feathers as pa Bartlett, a man who mainly thinks of himself. Both sons, members of the Culkin clan, rise to the fore with Kieran Culkin (Igby Goes Down) using a hot temper to good advantage with younger brother Rory (Chasing 3000) particularly sympathetic as a youngster looking for love. You get a sense that the writers here know a thing or two about upheaval in relationships as the verbal exchanges between many of the characters ring true and are full of force.

Many issues are tackled head on in Lymelife that sociologists could well use as a teaching device. Very strong in her take as a beyond her age teen is Emma Roberts (Hotel for Dogs) who goes from hot to cold in a very enticing way. Pot shots taken at some of society’s most inner protected values further up the ante on this tumultuous story of family decay and disintegration. Love, American Style this film just ain’t.

Lymelife scores well as a film that takes on a number of social issues without preaching. Though many of these same subjects have been dealt with cinematically many times before somehow the cast here clicks and the performances are engaging, emotion-laden and make one ponder one’s own actions in the real world.

Bottom line, Alec Baldwin (Brooklyn Rules) smokes as a creep and Emma Roberts sizzles as a hot to trot tart sure to raise teen temperatures. Also, some of the staged encounters seem a bit too far fetched to be believed. Timothy Hutton’s self-imposed paranoia may shock some though I felt that character as a screw up was a bit too hard to fathom and just a touch unbelievable. No father of the year awards for our Mr. Hutton here.

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