"Lymelife," a coming-of-age story set in the late '70s against the backdrop of dysfunctional suburbia, is all about the execution. Solid performances (from Alec Baldwin, Rory and Kieran Culkin, among them) combine with a sense of warm naturalism to make for engaging, memorable drama.
Sometimes it’s all about the execution.
Case in point: “Lymelife,” a film directed by newcomer Derick Martini and written by him with his brother Steven. A coming-of-age story set in the late ’70s against the backdrop of dysfunctional suburbia, “Lymelife” doesn’t traffic in anything remotely novel. Shy, bullied boy? Check. Hot neighborhood girl who won’t be more than friends? Check. Parents in a collapsing marriage? Check. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt and the soundtrack.
But “Lymelife” is more than its predictable parts. Solid performances combine with a sense of warm naturalism to make for engaging, memorable drama.
Rory Culkin is Scott Barlett, a lonely Long Island boy who gets beat up at school, in part because his mom (Jill Hennessy) practically dresses him in a hazmat outfit because she’s unnerved by an outbreak of tic-carried Lyme disease. His dad (Alec Baldwin) is a loudmouth real-estate developer with few parenting skills and his brother, Jimmy (real-life brother Kieran Culkin), is mostly away in the Army.
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Neighbors Charlie (Timothy Hutton) and Melissa (Cynthia Nixon) are having problems of their own since Charlie has become debilitated because of his bout with Lyme disease. Meanwhile, their daughter (Emma Roberts), whom Scott is crushing on big time, is beginning to realize the effect she has on guys.
The Culkins are a revelation, with Rory playing the wounded soul and Kieran the hot-tempered protector with unexpected strength. But it’s mostly Baldwin’s show, thanks to his ability to mix easy arrogance with untapped violence.
Unfortunately, there are some oddities in the script. Why would Jimmy be sent to fight in the Falklands War when that conflict didn’t start until 1982 and was mostly between England and Argentina? Looks like someone wasn’t listening in history class.
Still, “Lymelife” is an assured debut that promises even better things in the future.