Movie review by Susan Hodgetts

Starring: Alec Baldwin, Rory Culkin, Kieran Culkin, Cynthia Nixon, Emma Roberts
Director: Derick Martini

This slice of American small-town life, based on the true experiences of director and writer/producers Derick and Steven Martini, won’t leave you feeling in the party mood. Even with A-listers such as Alec Baldwin, Cynthia Nixon and Emma Roberts among the cast, LYMELIFE still proves a bit of an uphill struggle.

Set in the late 1970s, LYMELIFE follows two dysfunctional families chasing the American Dream. The sensitive Scott Bartlett (Rory Culkin), watches the relationship of his parents (Alec Baldwin and Jill Hennessy) disintegrate with devastating effect on their family life. His older brother Jim (Rory’s real-life brother Kieran Culkin), escapes to the army as soon as he can, and, to make matters worse, the 15 year-old Scott has fallen in love with his very attractive neighbour Adrianna Bragg (Emma Roberts). Adrianna’s father (an excellent Tim Hutton) has been struck down with Lyme disease, leaving a wife on the edge (a slightly under-used Cynthia Nixon) to turn all too close to home for comfort.

Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, this is a project close to the Martini brothers’ hearts. The cast acquit themselves well but the collective experiences feel as if they are fragmented, with some work still needed to shape the narrative into a cohesive whole. There seem to be gaps in some places. For example, Tim Hutton’s father character suffers from Lyme’s disease, but this is never detailed sufficiently, and the context is never explained satisfactorily in the film. The existence of this disease (in the press notes explained thus “an outbreak of Lyme disease hits the community”) on the periphery doesn’t feel as if it has enough of a presence to justify the title. The film could also maybe have done with a touch more humour to balance the consistently darker torments of the screenplay, although it does benefit from a powerful end.

3 out of 6 stars