Lymelife (2009). Directed by Derick Martini.

Derick Martini and his brother Steven have been trying to make this film since 2001 and it has been worth the wait. It’s a coming of age story set in the late 1970s on Long Island.

Scott Bartlett (Rory Culkin) is fifteen and experiencing love for the first time with Adrianna (Emma Roberts) while his parents’ marriage is crumbling. To complicate things, an outbreak of Lyme disease has everyone on edge (it wasn’t until the mid-80s that the disease was better understood). Adrianna’s father, Charlie Bragg (Timothy Hutton) is diagnosed with the disease.

Hutton is fabulous in his small role. He’s desperately unhappy but for reasons other than his failing health. At times you feel his agony and pain as he wastes away in the basement of his home.

Alec Baldwin also has a great role as Mickey, Scott’s explosive father whose wandering eye puts a strain on his marriage to his wife Brenda (Jill Hennessy). He’s one of those actors that can light up the screen with his mere presence.

Kieran Culkin plays Scott’s older brother Jimmy. He was originally cast in the lead role but was too old by the time filming started. Derick Martini wanted actors that were real-life brothers and the Culkins were his first pick. Perfectly cast.

Lymelife is a wonderfully sad film that is more about dysfunctional family relationships than Lyme disease. Everyone in the film experiences drastic change that thrusts them into the unknown. ‘Lymelife’ is a metaphor and a catalyst for this change. It leads to fearful uncertainty in family and personal relationships. How each of the characters handle this change sets the stage for a satisfying film.

You won’t want to miss Derick Martini’s first feature as a director. Hopefully his next film won’t take 7 years to make!


Films are rated from 1 to 4 stars.

TIFF’08 - Lymelife

Update: Lymelife won the Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) out of the 26 other films in the Discovery programme at TIFF.

Posted in 2008 TIFF at 12:31 AM