IGBY GOES DOWN
Review by Michael Jacobson
Kieran Culkin, Claire Danes, Jeff Goldbulm Jared Harris, Amanda Peet,
Ryan Phillippe, Bill Pullman, Susan Sarandon
Director: Burr Steers
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 98 Minutes
Release Date: February 4, 2003
one in every family.”
Slocumb is a character many critics have compared to Holden Caulfield.
Like J. D. Salinger’s immortal restless youth, Igby is old enough to
realize how phony the world is, yet too young to accept that he can’t do more
about it except rebel in his own small ways.
For half a century now, the Holdens of the world have been recognizing
the world for what it is, yet none have been able to alter the course.
played by Kieran Culkin, though, Igby is a character, like the movie he’s in,
that is frequently surprising. The
movie has plenty of humor…some of it dry, some of it dark…but it also finds
footing in some sad reality. In his
dysfunctional family, hatred is easier to express than love, and when love
finally shows up, it’s a revelation that surprises even Igby.
troubled student who has flunked out of many ritzy schools, Igby is the constant
problem of his self-centered mother Mimi (Sarandon).
Her civil venom combined with her son’s open hostility makes for some
amusing confrontations. As you’ll find out, Igby is the kind of kid that inspires
others, including a counselor, to hit him!
father (Pullman) has long since withdrawn from reality and the family…we sort
of see why in a series of flashbacks. Also
in the family: Igby’s older
brother Oliver (Phillippe), a rigid young conservative college student who
reminds Mimi “Igby is NOT my fault”, and his godfather D. H. Baines (Goldblum),
whose easygoing manner and attitude belie the fact that you don’t want to
wanting to return to school, Igby finds solace in the big city, and
companionship from a pair of unlikely women:
Rachel (Peet), an up-and-coming “artist” for whom D. H. is both
patron and lover, and Sookie (Danes), who turns out to be much more important to
Igby than he could have realized…just the first of many surprises in store for
could further describe the story and lead you to the conclusion you may or may
not see coming, but a large part of the pleasure of the film is experiencing
life the way it happens to young Igby, in both good and bad doses.
His family is a pained group, yet we can’t help but feel for them to
the end, when a simple gesture of affection leads to a shattered glass as an
is one of the year’s best ensemble casts, combining young stars with seasoned
veterans who are professional enough to work with their youthful counterparts
and not dominate them. Goldblum
turns in another memorable performance of the kind than no other actor besides
him could quite pull off, while the elegant Sarandon injects Mimi with a kind of
tragicomic regality. Phillippe is
terrific in the way he makes a humorless character so damn funny, and Danes is
the perfect emotional counterpoint to Igby’s sudden thrust forward into
the picture hinges on Kieran Culkin alone…in a complex role with many
subtleties, one misstep from him could have been disastrous.
He continues his strong string of work here as Igby.
He handles the humor and emotion with equal skill, and gives the troubled
character his humanity and likeability.
may be, in some ways, an incarnation of Holden Caulfield.
The world is waiting to see, however, if the Culkin family ends up like
Salinger’s other noted creations, the Glass family, in which once famed and
brilliant kids all grew up to be haunted by the shadows of youthful images they
could never live up to as adults. I
think Kieran to date is the family’s best, pure hope for the future.
is a quality anamorphic transfer from MGM in a film that contains mostly natural
looking settings with nothing seemingly set up for purely stylistic points.
Detail level is fairly good…only a few darker images soften up a tad,
but these aren’t much to be concerned about.
Colors and tones are well rendered, and the overall print is clean and
the dialogue is most crucial, there is plenty to like about this 5.1 mix, which
sometimes uses the city of New York as a great ambient background to the story.
The balance between front and rear stages is good, though not a lot of
crossover is called for. Spoken
words are clean and clear with no dropouts or distortions.
The .1 channel is used sparingly, but when absent, it isn’t missed,
given the nature of the film.
disc boasts a good number of extras, starting with an entertaining commentary
from writer/director Burr Steers and star Kieran Culkin.
This movie is actually the debut for Steers in those capacity…he as
acted before, but this marks his first time at the helm, so his thoughts and
comments were well worth hearing.
is also a short production featurette, a trailer, a photo gallery, and
deleted scenes with optional Steers commentary.
Igby Goes Down is an impressive movie debut for writer/director Burr Steers, and a film that solidifies Kieran Culkin as a genuine actor with a bright future. A solid ensemble cast and a terrific script that captures both the humor and heartache of youth and the terrible ways we love our families make this one very much worth checking out.