Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
"Lymelife" sometimes cuts to the tiny buildings and inhabitants of a model suburb, the kind you might find on display in a Realtor's office. Just as frequent are its shots of actual homes in a Long Island suburb, of the sort occupied by the Bartlett and Bragg families. The film is about the distance between the ideal and the real.
Unhappy suburban families are more familiar in the movies than real ones -- perhaps because, as Tolstoy believed, all happy families are the same. The sickness of these two families emanates from the parents. Two are committing adultery with each other. A third has Lyme disease, and regards life with fatigue and depression.
The movie isn't about Lyme disease, but it serves as a theme: "Isn't it amazing that your whole life can be changed by a bug the size of a pimple on your ass?" A tick has destroyed the spirit of Charlie Bragg (Timothy Hutton) and has left Melissa (Cynthia Nixon), his sluttish wife, open to the predations of her business partner, Mickey Bartlett (Alec Baldwin). Mickey's wife, Brenda (Jill Hennessy), knows what's going on but tries to stand above it.
Their children are directly affected, and much of the film is seen through the eyes of two kids around 15, Scott Bartlett (Rory Culkin) and Adrianna Bragg (Emma Roberts). In a film of good actors, these are two finely realized performances. Scott has an inarticulate crush on Adrianna, and is wounded when he sees her with an older, more studly boy. Adrianna likes him -- they've been lifelong friends -- but likes to date "more mature" men, which at that age may mean 17. Both of them know what Mickey and Melissa are doing; Adrianna is cynical, he's betrayed.