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Igby Goes Down - Preview & US reaction



Preview by: Jack Foley

QUIRKY comedies seem to be all the rage at the moment in America, what with Punch-Drunk Love helping to win Adam Sandler newfound acclaim, and the Tadpole knocking critics for six with its smart wit and wry observations.

Step forward, therefore, Igby Slocumb (played by a certain Kieran Culkin), a rebellious, sarcastic 17-year-old, desperate to break free from the world of 'old money' privilege he was born into, and make a name for himself.

The film in question is Igby Goes Down and it is yet another offbeat comedy, independent-style, that has got critics raving. Written and directed by first-timer, Burr Steers, and based largely on self-experience, the movie is said to be a well-acted, well-judged gem, featuring a brilliant ensemble cast, all of whom are on top form.

Aside from wrestling his own, inner demons, Igby must contend with a schizophrenic father (played by Bill Pullman), a self-absorbed mother (Susan Sarandon) and a driven big brother (Ryan Phillippe), so, after deliberately flunking out of yet another prep school and avoiding military academy, he sets off to the Big Apple to hide out with his godfather (Jeff Goldblum) and his drug-addicted girlfriend (Amanda Peet).

During the course of his efforts to prevent himself from 'going down', he encounters Claire Danes' terminally bored Sookie Sapperstein and embarks on an affair, all the while aware that his family is searching for him.

Steers, the nephew of author Gore Vidal (who makes an uncredited cameo in the film), was delighted when his film was chosen to open the recent Seattle International Film Festival and, upon introducing the film to an appreciative audience, spoke of the struggle to get it made.

That struggle looks to have paid off, however, with several critics in America referring to it as a darker cousin to the equally superb Royal Tenenbaums. There is said to be a mean streak running through it, despite the biting humour.

As yet, there is no firm release date for the film in the UK, although for a flavour of what to expect, scroll down to find out what the US critics had to say.

US critical reaction

Entertainment Weekly led the way, awarding it an A grade, and describing it as 'poisonously funny and unstintingly furious', while Hollywood Reporter said that it is 'an original work filled with bracing wit and sharp observations about character, class and social milieu'.

The LA Weekly said it is 'bursting with grenadelike one-liners and full-bodied performances', while the New York Times felt it is 'corrosively sarcastic'. The Onion's A.V Club said that it 'gives the impression of spontaneity while being meticulously planned'.

Rolling Stone felt it was 'darkly hilarious' and 'unexpectedly heartbreaking', while TV Guide opined that 'Culkin has a way with quip-heavy dialogue that transforms what might otherwise been irritatingly, solipsistic posing into a great performance'.

Slant Magazine was a little less impressed, describing it as a film which is as 'disconcerting as LaBute's equally nasty, though less charming, dramedy Your Friends & Neighbors'.

The Boston Globe, meanwhile, referred to it as 'blisteringly rude, scarily funny, sorrowfully sympathetic to the damage it surveys' and adds that 'the film has in Kieran Culkin a pitch-perfect Holden'.

Paul Clinton, of CNN, meanwhile, states that 'Steers, in his feature film debut, has created a brilliant motion picture'.

The final word, however, goes to the Houston Chronicle, which described it as 'a deliciously cold, brutal and unsentimental gem about growing up in an environment that knows no mercy'.

We can only wait to find out whether Igby lives up to his growing hype...

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