Lymelife (Blu-ray) (2008)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 12-Jan-2011

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Drama None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 95:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Derick Martini
Studio
Distributor
Anchor Bay Entertainment Starring Rory Culkin
Alec Baldwin
Jill Hennessy
Emma Roberts
Timothy Hutton
Cynthia Nixon
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Steven Martini


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Miss Hoover: You see, class, my Lyme Disease turned out to be
(Spells on blackboard) psychosomatic.
Ralph: Does that mean you're crazy?
Janey: No, that means she was faking it.
Miss Hoover: No, actually, it was a little of both.

     It is the late 1970s. There's a creeping tide of sickness sweeping through outer suburban New York. On the face of it the tick that spreads the dreaded Lyme Disease is the culprit but it is really the community that is ill to the core.

     Mickey (Alec Baldwin) is a property developer who has moved out of the Bronx to the "country" of Long Island, bringing his unwilling wife Brenda(Jill Hennessy) and their two kids Jimmy and 15 year old Scott (Kieran and Rory Culkin). Scott is 15 and the sole kid in the house after Jimmy leaves to go to military school. When their neighbour Charlie (Timothy Hutton) is diagnosed with Lyme Disease paranoia seeps into the community. The highly strung Brenda reacts by taking every precaution, including duct taping Scott's cuffs and collars, so the evil ticks that spread the disease can't invade his body.

     So is Charlie sick or is it psychosomatic? - crazy or faking it?

     A little of both really. He is in a deep funk. He hasn't worked in two years, pretending to his wife Melissa (Cynthia Nixon) that he is job hunting when he is really just hiding out in the basement. He also has a hunting rifle which he takes out from time to time, stalking but not shooting the deer in the almost-wilderness that surrounds their property. Melissa has had to take on a job so that they can get by. A job is offered by the generous Mickey, who we learn is a serial philanderer. It is not long before Mickey seduces Melissa.

     Scott is desperately in love with Charlie and Melissa's daughter Adriana (Emma Roberts) who endures and sometimes entices him but always lets him know that she "only dates older boys". When Jimmy returns from basic training and the small community becomes aware of the relationship between Mickey and Melissa it is apparent that things will never be the same again.

     The Blu-ray case for Lymelife claims it to be, per Variety, a "leaner and meaner American Beauty". True, there are connections to be found with that movie. But the closer comparison is with The Ice Storm with its cold hard look at relationships in decline. There is another connection too - both movies spectacularly nail the time period. The American Beauty reference is apt too because, unlike The Ice Storm, there is a dark humorous undercurrent running beneath Lymelife. The situations are painful and funny, often at the same time.

     The film was a filial affair. Written by brothers Derick and Steven Martini, Derick took on directorial duties whilst Steven acted as producer and composer. The film was allegedly based on their own childhood - I hope not, for these are some seriously messed up folks. Lymelife had some Indie success, with selection at Sundance and a Critics Circle Award from the Toronto International Film Festival. It is through and through an Indie film, with few concessions made to a mainstream audience. It is perhaps no surprise that the film is getting a straight to DVD/Blu-ray release as the material is both obscure (1970s Long Island) and sometimes confronting.

     What the film does have is some ensemble performances to die for. No one plays charismatic b****** like Alec Baldwin and he is in top form here. Jill Hennessy from Law & Order and Crossing Jordan is superbly nuanced in the difficult role of the mother spread between love of her sons and hatred of her cheating husband. Cynthia Nixon doesn't have as much script to play with as the others but does it well and special mention goes to Timothy Hutton in his best role in years as the unhinged Charlie. The Culkin brothers are both exceptional as the children in the eye of the storm and Emma Roberts graduates from Nancy Drew roles to sexually adventurous teen. A few of the plot turns are a bit arbitrary and designed to just shock but there is a nice wit on show here and the film is definitely worth an investment of at least time if not money for those who like their drama a little offbeat and dark.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     Lymelife was shot on 35mm film and presented in the cinema at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for the Blu-ray release.

     No one would probably ever turn to independent cinema to garner display material for their Blu-ray set-up. True to form this is a pretty bland Blu-ray though I doubt that this is the fault of those mastering the film. Instead it seems an aesthetic choice for a film that wants to put its viewers back into the late 1970s. Everything in Long Island looks a little grim. The sun doesn't really shine and the interiors are full of browns. The flesh tones are accurate though and the colours, though denuded of vibrancy, are stable.

     The film has no obvious defects.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Lymelife carries an English DTS HD Master Audio track.

     Once again the film is not really an aural showcase. The majority of action comes through the centre channel. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. The lack of subtitles is no bar to enjoyment except, of course, for the hearing impaired.

     Music is supplied by Steven Martini and the themes, like American Beauty, are simple yet striking. There is also a period friendly use of music.

     The actors are in audio sync.

     There is very little for the surround track and the sub-woofer to do.

     There are no technical problems with the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

There are no extras on this Blu-ray which has been released as completely barebones. A pity.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The film has been released on DVD in Region 1 and Blu-ray on Region A. Unfortunately for us in Region B the other Region has some extras worth mentioning. These are:

     A win for the other Region although it must be said that the comments I read on Region A sites regarding the extras were that they were underwhelming. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) The version of the film that is on this Blu-ray differs from the US released version in a crucial respect. In the Region 1/A the final moments of the film leave it very much in doubt about whether Charlie shot Mickey. Not so in our version which has a window with a large bullet hole and a still, bleeding Mickey on the floor. Whether he was aiming for Mickey or a deer is another question....

Summary

     For some the thought of another black comedy about a dysfunctional family is about as appealing as, well, something unappealing. For those who can never get enough twisted family drama Lymelife ticks all the boxes and features a host of excellent performances.

     The sound and vision on offer are not much by Blu-ray standards but don't distract from this entertaining film.

     Regardless of quality, I would have liked to see the extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE