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Holy blank does this film deliver! By far my favorite of the festival...
I've had time to really think about this one. I rambled my review on the other comment board right after seeing it at a special volunteer screening, but now that I've had time to reflect I feel this deserves a proper review. I am not a critic but I definitely have a strong opinion about film. I am film lover. And Lymelife is a rarity. I say that because I was able to get some insight into the film from the filmmakers who hosted the volunteer screening. I was stunned to learn that it was shot in 22 days on a tiny budget and not in digital. It is an American Spectrum film. Why? I have no idea. It is by far one of the most prestigious, smartest and well crafted films in the festival. All of the volunteers have been fighting to work the Lymelife screenings for good reason. It rocks! The story seems to be a simple coming of age story at first. But there's a strange uneasiness throughout the first twenty minutes or so where you're already guessing where this story is headed. And the amazing thing is that it takes you exactly where you need to go but leaves you wanting more at the end. And it leaves you questioning your own childhood and how you become who you are as a person. I'm in my twenties and have never asked myself the questions I'm asking myself after seeing this movie. And the other aspect is the humor. You'd expect this to be a straight drama, and I guess that's what most filmmakers would do. But not here. There is some very dark humor combined with some very light humor too. It's almost as if there's an intentional moment or two in every heavy scene that makes you laugh. Sometimes it's because you're uncomfortable, sometimes it's because it's just funny. The story follows Rory Culkin through the pains of being a kid with a screwed up family. He is simply sublime and gives a breakthrough performance as Scott Bartlett. Kieran Culkin plays and really is his older brother Jimmy. I am a big fan of his but haven't seen him for a while. His return to the screen in nothing short of dynamic, hysterical and heartbreaking. Alec Baldwin plays their dad Mickey. This performance is truly remarkable because of the way he plays such a jerk but continues to win you over. It's like being on a see saw. This is his best on screen work since The Cooler. And this film is much better than The Cooler. Emma Roberts plays Rory Culkin's best friend who he is in love with but is so afraid to make a move he talks to her when he's alone in his mirror and masturbates to her regularly. She has a breakthrough role here too. I've never seen her deliver this kind of performance and had no idea she could do it. She reminds me of Natalie Portman when she was in her earlier films. Timothy Hutton plays her father who is stricken with lyme disease. Hutton is just too good. It's almost unfair to put any other actors in the scenes with him because your eye is pulled to him. There is a scene that is one of the most insane, funny and uncomfortable scenes I have ever seen on film that takes place between him and Baldwin. It happens in a bar and all I can say is wow, I need to watch it again because the audience was cheering and laughing over a lot of the lines. Playing house mom is Jill Hennesey from Crossing Jordan. She is married to Baldwin and can actually act. I couldn't stand her show but obviously that was no fault of hers. She is spectacular. As is Cynthia Nixon who is married to Timothy Hutton. She is a woman on the verge of I don't know what, but it isn't good. And every time she appears on screen she seems to be creeping toward some inevitable breakdown. And the way the director composed the ending or the climax is unforgettable. All you know is that a tragedy is inevitable, but you don't know who, until the final moment of the film, will suffer most. And it's truly anyone's guess as to who will suffer most from this outcome. And what makes this different than other films of this caliber, American Beauty, Ice Storm is that the ending here is deliberately left open to interpretation. The filmmaker was asked about this in the "q and a" and he was very clear that his intention was not to tie everything up in "a neat bow". And that is the strongest thing about the movie. It lets you come up with your own conclusions about love, life and happiness. This is an award worthy film in every aspect. This is my first time writing an actual "review" so I hope I didn't give too much away but it is a must see.