WHAT IT'S ABOUT?
It's 1979, the world is changing economically and culturally, and an outbreak of Lyme disease turns 15-year-old Scott Bartlett's life inside out just as his parents including a workaholic father Mickey and doting mom Brenda are about to get divorced, and his brother Jimmy is shipping off to fight in the Falklands war. Making life even more complicated during this time of turmoil, he has fallen for his next-door neighbor Adrianna whose mother Melissa is carrying on a not-so-secretive affair with Scott's dad as her husband Charlie is feeling the devastating effects of a bout with Lyme's.
WHO'S IN IT?
A superb ensemble cast navigates co-writer/director Derick Martini's emotionally tricky and somewhat autobiographical screenplay in style, delivering sharp-edged, substantive portrayals of suburbanites in a state of flux. Rory Culkin shines as the confused but likeable Scott stuck in a coming-of-age nightmare of conflicting feelings and discovery. His virginal love scene with the wonderful Emma Roberts, playing girlfriend Adrianna, is poignant, real and quite funny. As his father Mickey, Alec Baldwin stands out in one of his best performances, and his marital dustups with Jill Hennessy, playing wife Brenda, are blistering in their raw force. Cynthia Nixon as Melissa plays uptight and needy about as well as anyone, and Timothy Hutton has some nice moments as her rather hapless Lyme-stricken hubby. Culkin's actual brother Kieran is around as the older bro and does nice work with his real-life sibling.
Martini manages to recreate a specific time and place with ease and captures a difficult time when society was trying to adapt to an unknown new world of change. What makes it really work is the sardonic sense of humor he manages to work into the proceedings. Lymelife is edgy, dark and memorable, a movie that may make you uncomfortable at times but one you will have a hard time shaking off.
The relatively brief running time precludes actually developing some backstories and character arcs making some of the film feel a little rushed at times, but mostly, it's solidly paced and engrossing all the way.
Developed with the help of the Sundance Institute and premiered at the 2009 festival, Lymelife has indie cred up the kazoo and shows that even with close to no budget, you can make a smart drama for adults.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Give these filmmakers some support and see it in a theater. Perhaps its success will inspire others to make challenging film fare in the future.
Hollywood.com rated this film 3 1/2 stars.