Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lymelife [2008]

MPAA (R)  Roger Ebert (3 1/2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
Roger Ebert's review

Lymelife [2008] (directed and co-written by Derick Martini along with Steven Martini) is an award-winning indie film that was recommended to me since I had clearly enjoyed/appreciated Derick Martini's more recent film, Hick [2012]. (Readers of this blog will know that I enjoy small, imaginative, well-acted/crafted projects like said Hick [2012], The Future [2011], Rid of Me [2011], Damsels in Distress [2011], Small Beautiful Moving Parts [2012], Safety Not Guaranteed [2012], and even foreign equivalents of these kind of projects like Avé [2010] from Bulgaria, Riscado (The Craft) [2011] from Brazil and Ha Algien Visto a Lupita? (Have You Seen Lupita?) [2011] from Mexico.  Please check my listing of Independent-Art House Films for a full listing of any number of such films that I've reviewed here.  These _small films_ often available for download via Amazon, iTunes, or various other On Demand services before becoming available through NetFlix or are IMHO, often enough, a true joy to watch).

Very good, Lymelife, is a coming of age story set in suburban Long Island in the early 1980s.  The story centers on Scott Bartlett (played by Rory Culkin) a 14 year old, preparing for Confirmation (the first time he's ever going to be officially called an adult), who has an enormous crush on the one year older Adrianna Bragg (played by Emma Roberts).  The two, indeed the two families, neighbors, have known each other for years.  Indeed, Adrianna's mother Melissa (played by Cynthia Nixon) has worked as an assistant to Scott's father Mickey (played by Alec Baldwin) in his local real estate development firm.

Business has been good, indeed booming.  As a result, Scott's father and Adrianna's mother have been spending far more time together than they probably should have, while leaving the other two parents/spouses -- Adrianna's father Charlie (played by Timothy Hutton) who had come down with the then utterly bizarre and previously unheard-of ailment called "Lyme Disease," and Scott's mother Brenda (played by Jill Hennessy) who had never really adjusted to suburban life and was still "pining for Queens" where she grew up -- behind.

So even as Scott and Adrianna are really in the beginning stages of growing-up and discovering themselves, they're also doing this in an environment where their parents are living in a very unstable situation.  Needless to say, much ensues ...

A remarkable aspect of this movie is that it is so well written and directed that one can understand and appreciate the point of view / motivations of _everyone_ of the major characters in the story.  To give an example: In a fit of frustration about how things were going (and really not going) with Adrianna, Scott spreads a rumor about her to friends at school.  We get to understand/appreciate why did it.  We also get to appreciate how Adrianna had to deal with it after it was done.  Finally we get to watch how the effect of "The Rumor" dissipates and the two characters can move on.  (And this is just a part of the story involving the teens.  The relationship between the adults and the adults with their kids is _all the more_ complex and fascinating.)

Would I recommend this film to parents for their teenage kids?  Well, folks, the film is _kind_, but it is also real.  You're definitely gonna squirm at times.  But, yes, giving you the warning that both you and your teens are going to squirm at times, I would certainly recommend it. 

Finally, I would honestly encourage readers here to take a look at the list of actors' names that are involved in this project.  This was _a small film_ but it did attract some really big names and _deservingly so_.  It was a nice, nice and at times painful/poignant story that was told here.  Honestly, good job all around! ;-)

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