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Lymelife

Two suburban families fall apart in this Sundance fave

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This low-budget indie dramedy hardly betrays its meager financing or its 22-day shoot; it's a small gem likely to please fans of similar simmering suburban breakdowns such as The Ice Storm or Snow Angels. Working from their own memories of adolescence, co-writers and brothers Derick (who also directs) and Steven Martini deliver a portrait of two middle-class Long Island families falling apart in the late 1970s. The central figure is Scotty (Rory Culkin), whose mostly painful (but occasionally sweet) coming-of-age introduces us to his circle of intimates: his got-the-hell-out older brother, Jimmy (Kieran Culkin); their sparring parents; his childhood crush, Adrianna (Emma Roberts); and her sparring parents. There are ill-advised real-estate deals (the softest spot to kick when the American Dream is down); extramarital affairs; and a threat du jour to stand in for all the moral decay: Adrianna's dad (Timothy Hutton) has Lyme disease, and spends his days literally wasting away. If the themes are familiar, they're ably supported by the actors, including Rory Culkin, who carries a lot on his slim shoulders and without any "showcase" scenes. Also, doing great work is Alec Baldwin, as Scotty's dad, whose bravado hardly hides his frustration, restlessness and ever-diminishing sense of self-worth. Some threads come to a boil; others do not. But a decent family melodrama doesn't need showy fireworks -- not when its most fraught scene is two neighbors sharing a joke in a bar. Starts Fri., May 15. Manor

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