Starring Rory Culkin, Kieran Culkin
Directed by Steven Martini
2 stars (out of 5)
By Andrea Warner
Like a suffocating hug to the bosom of an overbearing aunt, Steven and Derick Martini smother their indie labour-of-love drama with too much personal involvement and not enough outside help. Not only did the brothers pen the script to Lymelife’s semi-autobiographical ode to late-’70s suburban discontent, but Steven directed and Derick served as both a producer and composer.
Scott (Rory Culkin) is a vulnerable 15-year-old in suburban Long Island, attempting to weather the storm of his dysfunctional family and his devastating crush on the girl next door. He and older brother Jimmy (Kieran Culkin) are helpless witnesses to the dissolution of their parents’ marriage: Brenda (Jill Hennessy) is caught in the grips of Lyme disease paranoia, and Mickey (Alec Baldwin) is a workaholic womanizer. Mickey’s latest fling is next-door neighbour Melissa (Cynthia Nixon), the long-suffering wife of Charlie (Timothy Hutton), a man who’s sunk into a deep depression after being diagnosed with Lyme disease. Bringing it all full circle is their daughter, the lovely Adriana (Emma Roberts), who is the object of young Scott’s affections.
Performances by the high-powered cast rise well above the material, particularly in scenes involving the Culkin brothers, who infuse every exchange with genuine emotion. Although convoluted, the script offers moments of refreshing subtlety. But the limited scope of the Martini brothers’ imagination is glaringly obvious from the outset: The increasingly sick and depressed Charlie starts having hallucinations and becomes obsessed with rifles and hunting — an all-too-easy recipe for disaster that telegraphs the gist of the ending within minutes of the opening frame, thereby rendering Lymelife practically stillborn.