The film displays all the expected characteristics of a first-time director’s long-gestating pet project: recent-ish period setting? Check. Parental wrongdoing? Check. Coming-of-age antics? Check. The setting is early-’80s Long Island, where shaggy-haired ‘Star Wars’ nerd Scott (Rory Culkin) struggles to deal with the breakdown of his family unit in the wake of dad Alec Baldwin’s affair with neighbour Cynthia Nixon, whose prissy daughter Adrianna (Emma Roberts) Scott also happens to be in love with.
All a bit ‘The Ice Storm’, then, and there’s the problem. With its autumnal East Coast setting, bedhopping hijinks and misanthropic outlook, ‘Lymelife’ never manages to feel like more than a pale reflection of Ang Lee’s masterpiece, retaining the emotional integrity and immaculate period decor but falling far short in terms of insight or intelligence. There are some lovely moments, most of them deriving from a brace of pitch-perfect performances, notably Kieran Culkin as Scott’s punchy older brother, but the script never coalesces, meandering aimlessly through a series of bust-ups, break-ups and blazing rows towards a wildly unconvincing ‘shock’ finale. Solid, but forgettable.