Sometimes you watch a movie so jam-packed with content that it becomes impossible to explain in a simple context. The only way to recommend it to friends is to say, “Just watch it.” This is Lymelife.


Here’s what we are dealing with: Scott Bartlett (Rory Culkin) has always been the naïve child of the Bartlett family. He blindly adores his father, Mickey (Alec Baldwin), and his soldier brother, Jimmy (Kieran Culkin). He has feelings for his closest friend, Adrianna Bragg (Emma Roberts), and feels that his mother, Brenda (Jill Hennessy), is unappreciative of the life they have in 1970s Long Island. Adrianna’s father, Charlie (Timothy Hutton), is slowly losing his mind to lyme disease and distancing himself from reality. Her mother, Melissa (Cynthia Nixon), is cracking under the pressure of providing for the family and finds solace in Mickey. The families are longtime friends, but are quickly bringing each other down.

Charlie mentions at one point that it is unbelievable how something as miniscule as a tick can completely alter your life. This is the key phrase for the film, symbolizing the erosion of two seemingly happy families. The domino effect caused by Charlie’s disease leads to the affair, Jimmy refusing to see his father ever again, and Scott finally noticing the rampant flaws within his and Adrianna’s households.

The film is constructed beautifully to match Scott’s level of understanding. As he learns more, we are shown more of the mistakes being made by his heroes and the boiling over of anger that had been building for years. Rory Culkin gives an excellent performance bringing Scott’s rapid maturation to life in a shy, yet confident style. His interactions with the rest of the cast are very well done, though to be fair the deep cast makes his job that much easier. The only weak spots are Roberts and Nixon, but I tend to think this is more due to their weak characters than any fault of their own. In any case, neither character is bad enough to bring the movie down at all.

Hennessy, Baldwin, and Kieran Culkin bring the right levels of animosity and care to their constantly feuding characters. It is clear that they worked for a long time together to gain that sort of relationship, and the real life brotherhood of the Culkin boys made the transition to Lymelife brotherhood smoother.

There isn’t much more to say apart from the acting because the film revolves solely around the build-up of the character arcs until the intense finale. Hutton’s minimalist portrayal of a man watching and waiting as his wife strays and his mind disappears is chilling. The use of the high pitch tone whenever he is having an attack builds tension as the film progresses.

The ending comes at you with a full intensity that almost catches you by surprise and brings you back to attention after Scott’s confirmation. After some research, apparently the ending shown in the U.S.- the one I viewed- is not the original ending produced. I will say ambiguously that the original is more finite. The answer to your ensuing question will be: Yes.

Now go watch it.

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