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Igby Goes Down (2002)

  Directed by: Burr Steers
Written by: Burr Steers
Starring: Kieran Culkin, Claire Danes, Jeff Goldblum, Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillippe, Bill Pullman, Susan Sarandon
Links: Igby Goes Down on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 7.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Being young Igby style" - a review by em_fiction

It seems like only yesterday that Macaulay Culkin was the biggest child star ever - ah yes, and we all know what happened after that. Now the next Culkin in batting line-up, Kieran Culkin, has his own shot at the spotlight in this arty debut from Burr Steers.

I was attracted to this film by sensing an unconventional style, something that might've been unique and original. The film is about the adventures (and misadventures) of a juvenile delinquent, Jason "Igby" Slocumb Jr. (Culkin) and the hells he both faces and inflicts.

Steers uses Igby's relationships with those around him to give us an intense exploration of adolescence, then fittingly frames it in black humour. The significant players in Igby's life include his frustrated mother Mimi (Susan Sarandon), his stiff, narcissistic brother Ollie (Ryan Phillippe), his superior godfather D.H. (Jeff Goldblum), D.H's feisty mistress Rachel (Amanda Peet) and Igby's rebellion love interest Sookie (Claire Danes). In several flashbacks, we also meet Igby's depressed father Jason Sr. (Bill Pullman).

Igby Goes Down is essentially a character study of a misguided teenager. At times, the film gets very quirky; particularly the opening which was weird but enigmatically funny. To describe Igby's character in a nutshell is probably best conveyed when Ollie says "I think if Gandhi had to spend a prolonged amount of time with you, he'd end up beating the shit out of you, too."

Burr Steers shows a lot of skill in his display of realistic humour while painting a black picture of the upper class. The characters are vibrant yet depressing. The ensemble cast generally give good performances - Culkin portrays Igby with a great deal of confidence. Claire Danes is also in one of her best roles, and Susan Sarandon shows a very bizarre side to herself. The only thing I found a bit dodgy was casting Bill Pullman in what is meant to be a very eccentric role (sure, he does his best, but it just doesn't work).

The film is generally a good debut from a promising filmmaker. Although it occasionally drifts off track, it's still pleasant and enjoyable, and it also leaves you thinking: "If heaven is such a wonderful place then how come being crucified is such a big fucking sacrifice?"

em_fiction gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 9 Dec 2003

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