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Lymelife ver2.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Derick Martini
Produced by Alec Baldwin
William Baldwin
Leonard Loventhal
Steven Martini
Barbara DeFina
Jon Cornick
Angela Somerville
Michele Tayler
Executive Producer:
Martin Scorsese
Written by Derick Martini
Steven Martini
Starring Rory Culkin
Alec Baldwin
Emma Roberts
Music by Steven Martini
The Spaceship Martini
Cinematography Frank Godwin
Edited by Derick Martini
Steven Martini
Mark Yoshikawa
Distributed by Screen Media Films
Release date
  • September 8, 2008 (2008-09-08) (TIFF)
  • April 8, 2009 (2009-04-08)
Running time
94 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.5 million

Lymelife is a 2008 independent comedy-drama film written by brothers Derick Martini and Steven Martini, and directed by Derick Martini, depicting aspects of their life in 1970s Long Island from the perspective of a teenager. The film stars Alec Baldwin, Rory Culkin, and Emma Roberts.[2] Martin Scorsese served as an executive producer.

The film debuted at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival,[3] in September 2008 and won the International Federation of Film Critics Award (FIPRESCI).[4] After its theatrical release in 2009, writer director Derick Martini was nominated for a Gotham Award for Breakthrough Director.


Set in 1979 Syosset, Long Island, New York, Lymelife follows two families, the Bartletts and the Braggs, who crumble when tangled relationships, real estate problems, and Lyme disease converge in the heart of suburbia. 15-year-old Scott Bartlett is a gentle boy, radically different from his blustery father Mickey and mother Brenda. An outbreak of Lyme disease, as well as the accompanying paranoia, hits their community hard.

When the Bartlett's neighbor, Charlie Bragg, is diagnosed with the illness, Charlie is unable to work and his wife Melissa must keep the income flowing herself. She is hired by Mickey, a friendly favor motivated by lust. Mickey's history of philandering is one of the many things upsetting Brenda. Scott has been in love with the Braggs' one year-older daughter Adrianna for all his life; she is starting to return his interest.

Charlie spends days hiding in his basement, while his wife believes he is in Manhattan on job interviews. He is obsessed with hunting deer. Scott and Charlie have a good relationship, one of the only ones Charlie is able to maintain throughout his illness. Things heat up when Jimmy, Scott's older brother, comes home from the army on their mom's birthday. Brenda leaves early from Jimmy's going-away party when it is clear that there is a relationship between Mickey and Melissa. Jimmy and Mickey have a confrontation.

Scott learns of the affair and confronts his mother. Adrianna helps him through this, but shuns him after a rumor spread from a lie he tells a friend. Brenda kicks Mickey out of the house and is once again able to act the role of an effective parent. Charlie also confronts Mickey after he inadvertently witnesses the affair; when his wife finds out that he has been letting her earn the family's keep, she packs to leave. Scott and Adrianna reconnect and lose their virginity to each other. Brenda lets Mickey spend the night at their house but on the couch.

The movie ends with a gunshot. It is not clear whether Charlie shot a deer, himself, Mickey, etc.





The story of Lymelife is based on Steven and Derick's childhood in the New York suburbs of Long Island. After the incidents of the film, Steven moved from Long Island back into his birthplace of New York City, where he attended the Professional Children's School with the Culkin brothers Macaulay and Kieran, with Kieran and his younger brother Rory Culkin going on to portray the Martini brothers in this film. It was during this period that Steven met his first true love, Adrianna, whose father had Lyme disease. This relationship is the basis of the love story between Rory Culkin and Emma Roberts in the film.


In early 2005, the film was plagued with insufficient funds and was shut down on the eve of principal photography. The funds to make the film were not raised until 2008. Despite the 3-year hiatus, nearly the entire original cast made time in their schedules to participate in the film. The total budget for the film was $1.5 million. The shooting schedule was a scant 22 days, made only more difficult to complete due to the director's insistence on using older, larger and heavier anamorphic lenses.


The role of Mickey Bartlett was written specifically for Alec Baldwin, despite the fact that neither of the Martini brothers had any connection to Baldwin. Martini is frequently quoted as having seen a younger Baldwin's portrayal of Stanley Kowalski on Broadway in A Streetcar Named Desire, and it being an "eye opening" experience for him. Jill Hennessy was offered the role of Brenda Bartlett after Jennifer Jason Leigh left the film and her replacement, Anne Heche, insisted on wearing a wig. Martini chose to circumvent the conventional casting process, specifically "cold readings", and instead cast the actors based on viewing their previous work. Emma Roberts was the only main actor who wanted to audition for the director despite not having to.

Shooting locations[edit]

Portions of the film were shot at Montclair High School in Montclair, New Jersey.[5] Other locations were nearby, also in New Jersey.


Critical reception[edit]

The film premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival and won the International Federation of Film Critics award (FIPRESCI). It landed on several of 2009's critic's "Top Ten Lists" and was praised for its performances and directorial style, but criticized for its story's familiarity. The film received a 63% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes; the consensus states: "Lymelife features sharp performances, but the story lacks the emotional depth or focus worthy of its talented cast."[6]

Box office[edit]

The film began its North American theatrical release in April 2009. Initially, Lymelife was only shown on screens in New York and Los Angeles, but eventually expanded to screens in almost every major and minor U.S city. Foreign release was more fruitful, opening on screens in nearly every major foreign territory, which is rare for a smaller American independent. The film grossed $421,307 in the United States and an additional $1,104,938 internationally for a total worldwide gross of $1,526,245.[7] DVD, VOD and Cable sales brought the film's gross up to $4,526,245, more than doubling its production budget.


  1. ^ "LYMELIFE (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2010-05-10. Retrieved 2012-09-22. 
  2. ^ Vlessing, Etan (August 14, 2008). "Toronto puts 'Lymelife' in Discovery lineup: Alec Baldwin starrer will have world premiere at the festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 20, 2008. 
  3. ^ Evans, Ian (2008). "Lymelife premiere at TIFF 2008". Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  4. ^ "Toronto puts Lymelife in Discovery lineup". Reuters. August 15, 2008. 
  5. ^ Read, Philip (May 13, 2008). "Montclair on screens big and small". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved August 21, 2008. Earlier this spring, filmmakers quietly lined up Montclair High to film Lymelife, a drama that chronicles the moral deterioration of a family as it navigates the pitfalls of a failing marriage. 
  6. ^ Lymelife at Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ Lymelife at Box Office Mojo

External links[edit]