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Igby Goes Down

Igby Goes Down

Those who see Burr Steers' Igby Goes Down will find something odd, but often appealing, even when a droll tone permeates this foreboding movie that has Kieran Culkin's Igby Slocomb knocked around by family and friends, even his analyst.  Steers conveys with heartfelt unpredictability Culkin turns his rebellious, troubled Igby into a breakout role.

Pain stares Igby in the face as an enormous emotional albatross has descended upon him.  The rich adolescent doesn't want to follow the path of his mentally wayward dad, Jason (Bill Pullman), now in a psychiatric ward.  His foul-mouthed mother Mimi (Susan Sarandon) has a steady diet of pills and whisks him to a military school in the mid-west.  Brother Oliver (Ryan Phillippe) is a plutocrat type at Columbia University majoring in fascism according to Igby who decides that enough is enough.

The involving narrative has Igby AWOL in New York inviting himself into the loft of his unctuous godfather, a snappy Jeff Goldblum.  There, his junkie mistress Rachel (Amanda Peet) is ready to make Igby feel good.  And there are good scenes with Culkin and Peet, who can be touching in eschewing promiscuous stereotyping.

Steers keeps mining humor throughout as sadness pushes into Igby's new incarnation.  Claire Danes revels in her cheeky Sookie Saperstein, and underachieving, cocky Bennington student who finds the offbeat Igby funny.

Some will find Igby Goes Down too peculiar as Culkin takes his role down some dark roads.  Plotting may not always be consistent based on character traits, especially in Oliver's new bed- mate, but it outlasts any erring, even with an assisted suicide as the opening touches on something that the movie handles with raw verve.

In the end, Sarandon and Culkin handle their particular travails with grit and vulnerability as she adds more acrid humor than was apparent in Stepmom.  And Culkin finds a dignity that has staying power in a 17-year-old wounded from a lifetime of battering that always seems to elevate the ever increasing frailty in Igby Goes Down.

Igby Goes Down

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