MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
Alec Baldwin as MICKEY BARTLETT
Kieran Culkin as JIMMY BARTLETT
Rory Culkin as SCOTT BARTLETT
Jill Hennessy as BRENDA BARTLETT
Timothy Hutton as CHARLIE BRAGG
Cynthia Nixon as MELISSA BRAGG
Emma Roberts as ADRIANNA BRAGG
Directed by: Derick Martini
Studio: Screen Media Films
BY KEVIN CARR
One of the most terrifying things to encounter in independent cinema is the movie based on the coming-of-age experiences of the director. The reason for this is, with very few exceptions, no one’s life is really all that interesting to warrant its own feature film. In the end, films like “Lymelife” turn into masturbatory pieces driven by a director’s ego.
“Lymelife” tells the story of 15-year-old Scott (Rory Culkin) in the 1970s as he watches his family – and those around him – implode. His dad is having an affair with the mother of his first love, and her father has been stricken with the then-mysterious Lyme disease. These separate storylines twist around each other to a final, tragic conclusion.
I’m sure the bizarre and trashy relationships of the people in this film are interesting to director Derick Martini because he lived through them, in a way. But for me, they were just boring. Nothing happens in the film, except for Scott running into minor conflicts throughout the film.
The film was meant to be a tear-jerker, but the only tears I encountered were the ones that I was bored to. Sure, the film has a great cast – featuring Alec Baldwin, Cynthia Nixon, Timothy Hutton, a budding Emma Roberts and the non-arrested Culkin boys – and they do raise the quality of the feature to a certain degree. However, for a film that promises to be a comedy, it is alarmingly flat.
The DVD comes with deleted scenes and an alternate ending, as well as a commentary track by the director.
After watching the special features, I am convinced that “Lymelife” partially suffered from its own success. I worked on a movie almost ten years ago that had a key yet disturbing scene tempered for general release. And while I don’t think the loss of this scene was even a major reason in the film’s failure, it didn’t help. Likewise, director Derick Martini admits in the commentary over the alternate ending that he changed things for the release, even though it wasn’t the movie he intended to make. This may have softened things a bit and lost some of the payoff… or the movie failed to find a wider audience because it was strictly a film for the festival crowd.