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Dysfunction in the 70s

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Lymelife, while filmed with love, precision and supported by an amazing cast, ultimately offers nothing that hasnít been seen before. It follows two upper-middle class Long Island families as they struggle to attain the American Dream. Itís a beautiful, well-acted film that never quite finds its footing and itís a shame because it has so much potential.

Actually, it has a very similar feel to Ang Leeís The Ice Storm, but where that film illustrated the underbelly of suburban life and its consequences in the 70s, Lymelife feels afraid to go that distance. We mostly see events unfold through the eyes of Scott Bartlett (Rory Culkin), as he not only has to deal with a crumbling family life but also all that comes with adolescence.

Heís in love with neighbor Adrianna Bragg (Emma Roberts) whoís also watching her family disintegrate. Her father (played perfectly by Timothy Hutton) is (or was) an avid hunter but caught Lyme disease in the forests that surround their small town and itís left him unemployed, sick and depressed. Meanwhile his wife Melissa (Cynthia Nixon) is a bit too peppy and a bit too close to Scottís father Mickey (Alec Baldwin).

As Scott struggles with an absent father and an unhappy mother, his brother Jimmy (Kieran Culkin, Roryís real life brother) returns from the Army, but things just keep falling apart. While the film, itself, never quite falls apart, it never quite gets to where it wants to go. Itís a static story that has its share of ups and downs, but it doesn't ever reache that peak where everything comes together. Perhaps that was the point - that life always moves forward despite its many problems. Nonetheless, it is a pleasant film and offers up great performances by a talented cast.