Lemon Sky (1988) Poster


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Not a Lemon at all...
qmax3 July 2002
Based on Lanford Wilson's early -- and quite autobiographical -- stage play, "Lemon Sky" is atypical TV fare. It's non-linear structure and surealistic staging might be off-putting for the average couch-potato. But Wilson is a brilliant writer, and Kevin Bacon gives possibly his best performance as a young man trying to fit into the family of an abusive father who left him as a child. This is the film where Bacon fell in love with Kyra Sedgewick, and so did I. Her sexy, tough, tragic performance raises the question of why she never became the major star that her talent deserves. I taped this from PBS, and showed it to dozens of my high school drama classes, and they loved it every time. I wish it were available on video.
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Important production of a major American play
dgsweet6 August 2008
Not all stage plays translate well to screen. This is one of the most successful adaptations, partially because it embraces the stage conventions rather than trying artsy things to obscure them.

In a way, this is an update of STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. A sensitive person comes into a household dominated by an alpha male. In STREETCAR, Blanche is destroyed. In LEMON SKY (which is set in the California of the late Fifties), you get the feeling that Alan has gone through something traumatic, but the Sixties are coming and Alan will find his place in a transformed society that will allow him to prevail.

I've talked to Lanford Wilson a little about this play and this adaptation. He had little to do with the film and expected not much and was thrilled with how well it turned out. Kevin Bacon is at the peak of his form here. I believe it was on this project that he met Kyra Sedgwick, whom he later married. I'm a great admirer of Lindsay Crouse, and the work here ranks with some of the best she's done.

By the by, I saw the original production in New York, and Alan was played by a very young and remarkable Christopher Walken.
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Kevin Bacon at his best!!!
hughman5521 June 2009
Where do you start with a gem like this. THE SCRIPT! It is brilliantly adapted by Langford Wilson from his own play of the same name. The story line centers around Kevin Bacons character, and his ample talent is on full display here. Kyra Sedgwick, Lindsay Crouse, and Tom Atkins are also strong. Thirteen year old Casey Afleck makes his screen debut. Everyone is wonderful in this personal little movie. But there is even more to like about this film than the actors; the music, set decoration (50's), the lighting, cinematography, everything. There is actually not one thing I didn't like about this movie. The biggest credit has to go to Langford Wilson's script, Jan Egleson's direction, and Kevin Bacon's deft acting. He carries this film in a 360 degree view of a summer he spent with his estranged father. It is touching and tense as you watch this head on collision happening in slow motion. The finale is powerful, and sad. See this brilliant work. You will be moved and impressed.
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Lemon Sky is half that.
st-shot15 March 2008
Lemon sky is a filmed stage play that transfers poorly to the screen. The actors basically give stage style performances that are meant to reach the last row in the theatre and on film it comes across as artificial and remote.

It is fifties America and its dream and promise is in full ascendancy and nowhere better than the Golden State, California. Alan (Kevin Bacon) has come from Nebraska to live with his father whom he hasn't seen since he was five. Alan is there to go to school and work part time as well as get to reconnect with dad and get to know his new family. On the surface all is well with the family in this sun drenched land of opportunity but underneath they all hold dark secrets that over the course of the play fester and eventually implode this all American brood in the film's climactic moment.

Technically Director Jan Egleson plays it safe with his camera, flatly filming the fabulous fifties kitsch (including a 55 Chevy) set with little or no movement outside of the opening tracking shot of the home that economically establishes place and character. It then bogs down in cliché character development telegraphing most of what's up ahead.

Kevin Bacon gives an excellently measured and powerful performance as Allan. His search to find himself in a generation of conformity evolving from impish teen to social outcast is the film's saving grace. Tom Atkins as the bullying and predatory father imparts a convincing an uncomfortable ugliness. The three lead actresses (Lindsay Crouse, Kyra Sedgewick and Welker White) come across as heavily medicated zombies. Given their talent one wonders if it is Egleson's feeble attempt to define them as battered women.

Lanford Wilson's play is a tepid entry from the endless exposes of societal and domestic hypocrisy. While it might make for a mildly thought provoking and emotional night at the theatre which has the capability of putting the audience in the kitchen it becomes lifeless upon being transferred to screen. Unlike Bergman who was a master at filming memory plays such as this Egleson fails to get his camera fully involved or explore it's possibilities and Lemon Sky gets lost in the clouds.
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a jaundiced view of family life
deng434 April 2008
to start, this is one terrific film. i have always held that the 'happy childhood' is a shuck sold by hypocrites and blind midgets to folk afraid to disagree with their betters.

i recognize this family absolutely, and i am betting many others will as well, because the people in it are not all that unusual or rare. i was a bit put off by the netflix description: "a troubled young man trying to come to terms with his abusive hardscrabble upbringing." what a load of bunk; i truly think this comes damn close to how many of us were raised, and it wasn't hardscrabble - it was middle class.

the viewpoint shifts in and out as the audience gets talked to directly some of the time, but i didn't find there to be any confusion. it is masterfully presented, smooth as the proverbial baby's butt. all the actors realize their roles with aplomb. they are the parts they play.

get it and see it. you may not like it at all, but give it a chance. there is a lot of pain in the truth here. don e.
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A standout - well done - special movie!
rex17 December 2001
I kept wondering what was going on with this movie??? You are looking at the screen and the movie and then the people and the movie are talking to you??? Flash forward, flash back.... it's a screen play, then it's a regular movie, then when you are really into it everything stops and the actors talk to you. Deals with 2 bad things and one good thing... The bad... Family and hate... the good SEX, Young SEX! Yea! I really liked it.
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