Sunday, 18 April 2010
Belfast Film Festival :: Lymelife
With a rather spectacular opening day at the festival, it was back down to the Queens Film Theatre for yet another healthy dose of independent cinema. This time in the form of Lymelife, from director Derick Martini and produced by, screen legend, Martin Scorsese. A darling of the Sundance Festival in 2008, can it match such acclaim in Belfast?
Set in the early 80s, Long Island, New York, Lymelife follows two families who crumble when tangled relationships, real estate problems and Lyme disease converge in the heart of suburbia. Fifteen-year-old Scott Bartlett is a gentle boy, radically different from his blustery father Mickey and tightly wired mother Brenda. An outbreak of Lyme disease, as well as the accompanying paranoia, hits their suburban community hard.
It seems my experiences, of the Film Festival so far, have been analysing and reviewing films centred entirely around family matters, however Lymelife was hardly the caustic journey I witnessed yesterday in Dogtooth nor the beautifully filmed straight drama of Adrift. Like many before it this film has a good attempt of poking fun at the highly dubious ideology of the 'American Dream' - happily married, couple of kids, big house and of course making loads of money, essentially capitalism at its heartless best. As you can probably imagine life is rarely that simple.
The film follows the route taken by many film seen before in the Indie comedy/drama route where it feels as though nothing actually happens for the best part of an hour, which is a shame but thankfully its saved by the brilliant performances of hardened veterans such as the brilliant Alec Baldwin - proving he's capable of straight acting outside of his larger than life character often seen in 30 Rock - as well as the likes of Jill Hennessy, Cynthia Nixon and the often over-looked Timothy Hutton.
The real beauty of the movie however came from the unravelling relationship between young Rory Culkin and Emma Roberts, like their characters in the film, both maturing into real stars for the future. Honourable mention must go to the appearance of Rory's older brother Kieren - though you got to feel sorry for poor Macaulay (remember him?) for clearly not getting a phone call.
Regrettable however, the film failed to offer anything new that hasn't been seen time and time again in superior features like American Beauty or A Serious Man. How many times does one have to sit through a movie and be bombarded by several more Star Wars references, yes I love it too but please, there's a time and a place for such geekery.
There's very little to complain about the production of the film, containing sights and scenes reminiscent of Donnie Darko - albeit far less surreal - and similarly so, the soundtrack features all the pop and rock hits heard of the particular period.
Performances from the wonderfully assembled cast aside, Lymelife will offer very little from the land of the Indie Americana that you have not seen before in films that are unfortunately much better and much more original. Really makes you think how much Macaulay Culkin's career has gone to shit if his brothers can get into this and he can't...Harsh? Probably but with a film this unremarkable you have to find the jokes from somewhere. Enjoyable enough but don't expect it to change your life.
See This If You Like...
American Beauty & A Serious Man