Long Island Iced Teen
Indie movies tend to split opinion; there are those who love them and extol their virtues whilst there are those who hate them and think they are over rated and self indulgent. I find myself somewhere in the middle because whilst I often find Indie movies hard work and over rated I can appreciate the different approaches and their importance when it comes to the bigger cinematic picture. That brings me to coming of age movie "Lymelife" which again I find myself in the middle of general opinions because the storyline failed to grab me but elements of style and camera work and also casting did. Talking of which for a movie with a reported budget of just $1,500,000 there is a cast of well known names and faces which help to make it interesting if not entertaining.
It's the late 70s on Long Island and the fear of Lyme disease is prevalent. That fear is not the only thing troubling 15 year old Scott Bartlett (Rory Culkin - Down in the Valley) as he has feelings for best friend Adrianna Bragg (Emma Roberts - Aquamarine) who appears to be only into older guys. But to add to the strains of teenage life is the discovery that his family is not as a happy as he always thought they were as he starts to understand the stuff going on around him.
"Lymelife" appears to be two story ideas rolled into one and they are two stories which do go hand in hand because we have the coming of age intermixed with the realisation that the American dream is not as it seems. To put that simply we have Scott at the centre as he deals with is teenage feelings for Adrianna and also discovering that his parent's marriage is not as happy as up until then he believed. Now on one hand I am sure some people will love this because they may be able to connect to what Scott is going through but at the same time it's not that original. Both stories have been done before and unfortunately "Lymelife" whilst doing things a bit different doesn't make them any fresher.
Part of the trouble is that stylistically "Lymelife" is a cold movie, in keeping with the damp atmosphere on the period it covers, but it makes it feel detached. It feels nigh on impossible to connect to any of the characters in this movie especially Scott who seems more withdrawn than a normal teenager. And so we are constantly left as observers watching him deal with watching Adrianna kissing an older boy or learning that his dad is cheating on his mum. And whilst this weaves its way to a non conformist ending it is an ending which to be frank is surprisingly predictable.
The annoying thing about all this is that there are moments of styling which are truly great, a close up on Scott's face as he sheds a tear is a genuinely touching moment. But then so many times we feel isolated from the drama, kept at arms length from what is going on and kept away by the disjointed narrative. It's the sort of thing which some people love, the very different style to mainstream cinema but for me it makes it hard to watch and even harder to connect to.
What is probably the most impressive aspect of "Lymelife" is the star power because the 7 main roles all have a well known name attached to it and all do a good job. Yes Rory Culkin plays Scott as too withdrawn but it is still a stunning performances which manages to capture aspects of late 70s life nicely. It's also a joy to watch Rory share a screen with his brother Kieran Culkin and whilst Macauley may be the most famous name in the Culkin family it is Rory and Kieran who can act. Plus alongside the two Culkin's there are enjoyable and full on performances from Alec Baldwin and Timothy Hutton playing polar characters and making them intriguing.
What this all boils down to is that "Lymelife" just didn't do it for me, it was an admirable indie movie which combined the fake ness of the American dream with a coming of age story. But it felt too distant and due to some styling issue made it very hard to connect with.