Oh, man! I can't believe nobody's done this film yet! It's great!
Igby goes down is pretty much your standard rich kid coming of age by rejecting wealth, taking/selling drugs, dropping out of education, having sex with some hot older women and finally growing up flick. Catcher In The Rye v111244531. Not the most inspiring conceit, you might think; and I couldn't blame you.
Here's the thing, though: it's frickin' brilliant. It's brilliant for a number of reasons. It's brilliant because the dialogue is perfectly measured, and feels true; it's brilliant because the screenwriter/director (to whom, one suspects, much of this stuff happened - though possibly with less sex with attractive older women) takes his story absolutely seriously, never patronising his audience or his protagonist; it's brilliant because the music and the cinematography absolutely fits; above all, though, and this is the biggie, it's brilliant because the cast are absolutely phenomenal.
They're so good they need to create some new oscars to accommodate them all; if that can't be done, though, give best supporting actor to Ryan Phillipe or Jeff Goldblum, best supporting actress to Susan Sarandon or (the mind bogglingly beautiful) Claire Danes or maybe even Amanda Peet; and especially, GIVE KIERAN CULKIN THE BEST ACTOR GONG. Don't make me come over there. If he doesn't get it I'll want to know the reason why. The best performance I'd seen before this year is probably Tom Hanks in Road To Perdition, and this knocks socks off him. Culkin is totally committed to the role, is totally immersed and emotionally involved and physically right and sweet and vulnerable but also with a slight frisson of danger and an edge and he's just IT. He's fantastic. If he was any better they'd have to invent a new category called the Best Damn Performance In A Big Hollywood Movie For Absolutely Ages, Probably Since Ray Liotta In Goodfellas And That Isn't Even That Much Of An Exaggeration Award. (It would have to be big for the engraving.) He's really very good. Of the rest Sarandon is the biggest stand-out, I guess, being wonderfully grim and bitchy as Mommy dearest; the character Goldblum plays is gloriously funny -an apparently upright godfather with some serious personality kinks - too.
This is principally a fantastic film in spite rather than because of being a coming of age thing. It would be pretty strong, but ultimately limited, and a little cliched, if it was just Igby's story; but the circle of characters is so convincing and so funny and so sad and so fundamentally sympathetic that it's very much more. It's bang on every time about social conventions, but it isn't a comedy of manners: it's a comedy of characters. And like any decent comedy of characters, it's at root barely an inch from being a tragedy. And that's why Igby Goes Down is a wonderful film. Dang, my fingers hurt.
(you might like this if you liked… Tadpole, Rushmore, most obviously; but also Woody Allen, other Wes Anderson movies… what am I saying? Everybody’ll like it. It’s superb.
Written and directed by Burr Steers