Reviews for April 8th, 2009
Directed by Derick Martini.
In Long Island during the late 1970’s, 15-year-old Scott Bartlett (Rory Culkin) lives with his father, Mickey (Baldwin), mother, Brenda (Jill Hennessy), and older brother, Jim (Kieran Culkin), in a quiet, suburban town. He flirts with Adrianna (Emma Roberts), a girl from his school who happens to be his next door neighbor as well. Each character has his or her own issues to deal with at some point. Scott gets bullied in his school while Jim aggressively protects him before going off to serve in the U.S. military. Brenda feels lonely because the spark between her and Mickey has disappeared somehow throughout their marriage. She’s overprotective of her two kids and goes to the extent of duct-taping Scott to protect him from Lyme disease, which their next door neighbor, Charlie (Timothy Hutton), Adrianna’s father, has. Charlie’s wife, Melissa (Cynthia Nixon), has an affair with Mickey while their kids, Scott and Adrianna bond with one another. In turn, Charlie becomes more and more mentally deranged. What might he do if he finds out that his wife cheats on him? Will Scott find a way to overcome his teen angst and finally lose his virginity to Adrianna? Their parents have a lot of growing up to do, almost as much as their kids do. Everyone, including the adults here, needs a heavy dose of therapy to learn how to control themselves and feel secure. Thanks to a superb ensemble cast and a few scenes with sharp dialogue that sparkles with wit and brief authenticity, everyone gets their own moment to shine, especially Rory Culkin and Emma Roberts, in her first meaty role. They both do a terrific job of sinking her teeth into the complex emotions of their roles. However, the somewhat unfocused screenplay by co-writers Derick Martini and Steven Martini jumps around from too many themes, such as bullying, coming-of-age, infidelity, physical and mental illness and the relationship between father-and-son, which certainly make for a compelling plot with interesting characters, but without developing them enough and exploring their troubles with more focus and sensitivity, it’s difficult to feel emotionally invested in their tangled lives. It’s interesting, though, to ponder some of the symbolisms, such as Lyme disease itself, which might symbolize the characters’ fragility as human beings. They would like to escape suburbia, but, concurrently, feel trapped inside of it. If the Bartlett family were to move back to Queens, that wouldn’t necessarily solve their deep-rooted problems. What happens to the characters in the messy third act won’t be spoiled here, though. At a running time of 94 minutes, Lymelife has a terrific ensemble cast with strong performances and occasional moments of razor-sharp wit and tenderness, but it eventually falls apart with a mostly contrived, unfocused plot that fails to be emotionally engrossing, powerful or haunting. Number of times I checked my watch: 2. Released by Screen Media Films. Opens at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema.