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Apr 25, 2009

'Lymelife': When did Kieran Culkin become a man?

January 19, 2009
'Lymelife': When did Kieran Culkin become a man?
Rebecca Snavely

"Welcome to our wonderful little family in our perfect suburban life" -- Jimmy (Kieran Culkin)

Real-life brothers Rory and Kieran Culkin star as brothers in "Lymelife," the coming-of-age story set in 1970s Long Island. They add a "dynamic that's hard to create, an instant chemistry on film," says "Lymelife" director Derick Martini. Co-writing and working with his own brother Steven behind the scenes was a different story. Based on their childhood experiences growing up in the 'burbs, the brothers worked in tandem on the 22-day shoot. While Derek was shooting, Steven was editing, and, unbeknownst to Derek, composing a score at the same time. The source music completes the experience of the '70s.

With "Star Wars" paraphernalia, a bully, a beautiful girl next door (Adrianna, played by Emma Roberts), a reference to Holden Caulfield and a long-haired high-school hunk, the film is a classic coming-of-age story. The kids' families are full of all that creates suburban dysfunction: lies, secrets, affairs and psychosis-inducing Lyme disease. Alec Baldwin, Jill Hennessy, Timothy Hutton and Cynthia Nixon play the parents, and the entire cast delivers, giving great performances that are at times laugh-out-loud funny, heartbreaking and wincingly relatable. And speaking of coming-of-age, when did Kieran Culkin become a man? The kid I remember from "Father of the Bride" plays Jimmy, home on leave from basic training in the Army. Jimmy is all beefed up and ready to fight to protect younger brother Scott.

Talking to audience members after the screening, their unanimous favorite aspect of the film was the interaction between the brothers. Much of that was ad-lib, said director Derick. "I would leave the camera rolling, and working with such great actors all you have to say is half a sentence: '... with him,' and all those magical moments that I was looking for? They gave me."

Not everyone agreed it was quite so magical. Ron and Millie Burkman from Massachusetts thought the ending was predictable, it seemed pretty clear cut.

Half_sf16_300 Jill, one of a group I'll call the "San Francisco 16," disagrees. She and 15 other women, mostly moms, have been trekking to Sundance for the last 5 years under the leadership of Gretchen, who puts together a spreadsheet of movies for the women to research online. Jill didn't want the ending that we were given, she said. She knew something was going to happen, but it was not predictable.

Sue and John Gleason, who live in Park City and have been attending the festival for six years, thought the film flowed well, and that the ending had to happen, but felt it was left open to interpretation, and that the film was close to real life. Perhaps a little too close.

"Lymelife" opens April 8 in New York City and Los Angeles, and rolls out to the rest of the country over the next month.