Rated: R
Emma as: Adrianna Bragg
Co-Starring: Alec Baldwin, Cynthia Nixon, Rory Culkin, Kieran Culkin, Jill Hennessy and Timothy Hutton
Director: Derick and Steven Martini
Writer(s): Derick and Steven Martini
Release Date: April 17, 2009(US) – Other Countries
DVD Release: September 22, 2009(US)
Studio: Screen Media
Production company(ies): Bartlett Films

Lymelife is a long-awaited sophomore effort that does not disappoint. This poignant follow-up to screenwriters Derick and Steven Martini’s Goat on Fire and Smiling Fish, which won the 1999 Festival’s Discovery Award, is an engaging and authentic coming-of-age story.

Set in late-seventies Long Island, Lymelife follows two families who crumble when tangled relationships, real estate problems and Lyme disease converge in the heart of suburbia. Fifteen-year-old Scott Bartlett (Rory Culkin) is a gentle boy, radically different from his blustery father Mickey (Alec Baldwin) and tightly wired mother Brenda (Jill Hennessy). An outbreak of Lyme disease, as well as the accompanying paranoia, hits their suburban community hard. When the Bartletts’ neighbour Charlie Bragg (Timothy Hutton) is diagnosed with the illness, Brenda calms her fears by duct-taping Scott’s cuffs shut.

Despite the onset of this mysterious ailment, the two families are quite busy. Since Charlie is unable to work, his wife Melissa (Cynthia Nixon) must keep the income flowing herself. She is hired by Mickey, who is the developer of an enormous subdivision, and though this gesture is a friendly favour, it is also patently motivated by lust. Mickey’s history of philandering is one of the many things upsetting his wife Brenda, who yearns for the comfort of their old neighbourhood in Queens. And growing up amid this marital cocktail is Scott, who has been in love with the Braggs’ daughter Adrianna (Emma Roberts) for all of his young life. The news – both good and bad – is that she is starting to return his interest.

Things really heat up when Jimmy (Kieran Culkin), Scott’s older brother, comes home on leave from the army. Jimmy shares many of his father’s personality traits, and his confrontations with Mickey trigger events that permanently alter both families.

While Hennessy, Nixon and Roberts acquit themselves very well here, Lymelife is really a movie about men, and testosterone runs through it like a river. Hutton gives us a desperate man grasping for his last strand of strength and Baldwin moves between terror and tenderness like no other actor can. The real heart of the film, however, is the shoulder-punching camaraderie of the Culkins as the Bartlett brothers, along with whom we laugh, cry, and get our noses bloodied.

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