Loosely based on the childhood experiences of writer/director Steven Martini, Lymelife is one of the most charming and well-made indie features I’ve seen in recent years. Set in the turbulent world of the late ‘70s/ early ‘80s, Lymelife presents the story of Scott Bartlett (Rory Culkin), a young high school lad growing up on Long Island.
Scott is your average dork. He adores Star Wars. He also gets picked on a lot at school — something his older brother, Jimmy (played by Rory’s real life older brother, Kieran) took care of before he went into the Army. His father, Mickey (Alec Baldwin, who co-produced), has big dreams of cashing in on the great American Suburbia boom — so much so, that he has all but alienated Scott’s mother, Brenda (Jill Hennessey). This has taken Brenda’s motherly paranoia up a notch, to the point where she seals Scott’s pant legs and sleeves up with duct tape so he won’t contract Lyme Disease.
Lyme Disease, as it turns out, is an illness that the Bartlett’s neighboring family, the Braggs, are all-too-familiar with. Ever since Bragg patriarch Charlie (Timothy Hutton, once again proving that he can in fact act) was diagnosed with it, things have turned sour. His wife, Melissa (Cynthia Nixon) has engulfed herself in working with Mickey.
As if that wasn‘t bad enough, the Bragg’s daughter, Adrianna (Emma Roberts), has found herself at that odd period in life where she is starting her transformation into womanhood — a transformation that has engulfed Scott’s interest completely. Further complications arise as Charlie’s illness worsens, and Mickey and Melissa’s work relationship takes a downward spiral. Yes, it’s a turbulent world — especially for poor Scott, who’s having a hard enough time trying to find his place to begin with.
In short, Lymelife delivers. The movie has a very honest and frank feel to it, taking you back to those awkward years of your own youth. The cast (even the younger ones) turn in some fine performances, and writer/director Martini assembles the whole piece magnificently.
Debuting on DVD from indie label Screen Media Films, Lymelife is presented in a relatively solid anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer, with some strong, cool colors (the film has a very “Autumn” look to it) and a better-than-expected contrast. The DVD is presented with a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, which doesn’t bring as much to the rear channels as it probably should, but suffices nonetheless. Spanish subtitles are included, as are a handful of special features: an audio commentary with director Martini, a few deleted scenes, and an alternate ending.
There are a lot of coming-of-age stories on the market nowadays, most of which aren’t worth your time and money. Thankfully, Lymelife is. Give it a shot.