Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: In Search of Igby. Deleted scenes; Deleted
scenes with director's commentary; Original theatrical trailer.
TEENAGE rebel, Igby Slocumb, is angry at the stifling, two-faced
world of old money privilege he was born into, and
his battle to break out makes for one of the most bitingly funny,
yet painfully sad, comedies of the year.
Igby Goes Down marks the wickedly barbed debut of writer/director,
Burr Steers, and displays a refreshing honesty not usually associated
with coming-of-age movies of this type.
As his pill-popping, self-absorbed mother states, at one stage,
his creation was an act of animosity, why shouldnt
his life be? The movie which ensures suitably fills us in.
Igby (Kieran Culkin) is the neglected son of the Slocumb family,
a child left by the wayside after his father, Jason (Bill Pullman),
suffers a sad slide into schizophrenia, prompting his mother,
Mimi (Susan Sarandon), to force him into any educational establishment
that will take him.
To make matters worse, he has nothing in common with his older
brother, Oliver (Ryan Phillippe), an equally selfish young republican,
on a fast-track to materialism at Columbia University - someone
who represents everything that Igby is striving to escape from.
Hence, after flunking out of a Midwest military academy, and
armed with his mothers pilfered credit card, the sarcastic
17-year-old heads for New York, determined to do something different
with his life, eventually hiding out in the weekend pied-a-terre
of his rich godfather (Jeff Goldblum).
Once there, he inadvertently falls in with a host of questionable
characters, including Goldblums trophy girlfriend (Amanda
Peet), her flamboyant artist pal, Russell (Jared Harris), and
the terminally bored Sookie Sapperstein (Claire Danes), with whom
he falls in love.
But while his newfound friends offer him sanctuary and some fun,
tragedy is never far away, as all become tainted, in some way,
by their association to the privileged Slocumbs.
Beginning with the mercy killing of Igbys mother, Mimi,
Igby Goes Down recounts the jet black tale of one boys attempts
to escape from the clutches of this most dysfunctional family
- a morally dubious collection of oddballs who make The
Royal Tenenbaums look sane.
Based in part on the personal experiences of its writer/director,
and influenced by such works as The Catcher in the Rye, Igby Goes
Down was initially envisaged as a character in a book, until Steers
realised that his protagonists story would be better communicated
The result makes for stimulating viewing, with Culkin a formidable
presence among a strong ensemble cast, helping to turn a character
that could have become tiresome and precocious into a shrewd and
likeable hero - one who is genuinely worth rooting
Though considerably aided by Steers incisive script - which
succeeds in delivering a dazzling array of quotable one-liners
- Culkin still rises to the challenge, displaying the same sort
of laidback cool he exuded during his West End stint
Is Our Youth, along with an emotional resonance that makes
each sucker punch more difficult to take.
Culkins is the star turn in a movie packed with memorable
performances from a cast that uniformly shines - Goldblum, in
particular, is terrific as the loathsome godfather, while Peet
finally proves herself to be an actress of worth, given the right
Steers clever use of music also serves to enhance the movies
visceral experience, without detracting from the events, with
songs by The Dandy Warhols, Badly Drawn Boy and Coldplay used
to terrific effect.
And while the movie may ultimately lack the colourful charm of,
say, The Royal Tenenbaums (to which it has often been compared),
it remains just as hip in its own quirky way and is a genuine
contender for one of the films of the year.