Igby Goes Down (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner06/09/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Well-acted, sharply-written drama that owes a definite nod to The Catcher In The Rye – dark, witty and extremely enjoyable.

Writer-director Burr Steers’ impressive directorial debut was conceived after the death of his brother, though it’s not autobiographical. Heavily inspired by novels such as J.D.Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye and John Kennedy O’Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, it is also reminiscent of films such as The Royal Tenenbaums, largely because the characters inhabit the same world of Upper East Side WASPs.

As such, the script is intelligent and sharply-written and Steers gets excellent performances from his eclectic cast.

Rebelling Teenager Loathes Republican

The story concerns 17 year old Igby Slocumb (Kieran Culkin), an angry and rebellious teenager who hates his republican older brother (Ryan Phillippe). Meanwhile his father (Bill Pullman) is in a mental hospital after a schizophrenic episode (a terrific, powerful scene) and his mother (Susan Sarandon) is distant, unloving and usually on ‘uppers’.

So, when Igby flunks out of yet another prep school (shades of Holden Caulfield again) he gets sent to a military academy, from which he promptly does a runner.

He ends up hiding out in New York at the studio apartment that his godfather (Jeff Goldblum) has set up for his mistress (Amanda Peet, who seems hell-bent on picking up a Scacchi Award for Gratuitous Onscreen Nudity). There he also meets other colourful characters such as Jared Harris’ artist and Claire Danes as the terminally bored ‘Sookie Sapperstein’.

Little In Plot…Not That It Matters

Beyond the seemingly shocking act that opens the film, there isn’t really much more to the plot than Igby’s interactions with the various characters. However, the film has several great scenes and many good, quotable lines – such as when Oliver tells Igby that “if Mahatma Gandhi had to spend more than five minutes with you, he’d end up beating the crap out of you too”.

Igby is an interesting character because he isn’t immediately likeable – he’s vaguely reminiscent of Max in Rushmore, owing to his dress sense and his propensity for a smartarse remark.

The acting is superb and the characters are really well-drawn. Culkin is excellent – his younger brother Rory also appears, as Young Igby. Similarly, Claire Danes single-handedly redeems herself for all the awful movies she’s been in lately (The Mod Squad, etc.) – here’s hoping she makes better choices in future.

Goldblum also deserves a special mention, as his character is both weird and complex and he pulls it off brilliantly.

In short, Igby Goes Down is a well-written, well-directed indie movie with a terrific cast and a decent soundtrack. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Igby Goes Down (15)
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Content updated: 18/12/2017 22:23

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