Writer: Derick and Steven Martini
Director: Derick Martini
Budget: $1.5 million (estimated)
Gross: $209 000 (as of May 2nd, 2009)
Lymelife is a coming of age story. but unlike most such stories, where the sole focus is the kid who is "coming of age", this film takes the approach that all the characters are important.
i heard that the original cut of the film was about 30 minutes longer and that martini decided to cut it down and focus in on rory culkins character (the "coming of age" kid). while he is the "star" of the show, so to speak, i did feel that the other characters got some due - although i think 30 minutes more and a deeper understanding of the people around him would have been the way to go. as it is now it seems a little to simple/quick.
having said that though, i appreciated the look at the people around him - primarily his parents, played wonderfully by jill hennessy and alec baldwin. often in these types of films the parents are made into one-dimensional caricatures presented as foils to the kid. however, in Lymelife - even the edited version - the relationship between the parents themselves, and with their kids gets a little more then the superficial treatment.
with the story itself, martini isn't doing anything crazy original here. you got the suburban angst, first loves, school bullies, infidelity and of course all the period appropriate music and references (in this case, late 1970s music and star wars). however, rather then play up the dark undertones like American Beauty and The Ice Storm (two films that it is getting compared to quite a bit) Lymelife makes their story much more personal. it doesn't feel like it is making grand observations about suburbia or relationships. instead it feels like it is making statements about this family and these people. writers are always told to "write about what you know" and that is what martini did.
p.s. i was going to also comment on the ending of the film, but i learned that the ending i saw might not be the one you see. the ending i saw was the one that was presented at the festivals (toronto and sundance). however, martini re-edited the ending for the films release, which for some reason isn't the version we got here in montreal. i felt that the ending i saw was heavy handed and a little corny, and while the other ending sounded like it might be better i don't know if it would have been a lot better, and i think that it comes back to the missing 30 minutes. spending 30 more minutes with the characters and not feeling like i was being taken through the story so quickly would probably have created the stronger emotional ties to the characters needed to make both endings feel emotionally viable rather then feeling like they were trying to force a reaction from us.