Igby Goes Down

Woebegone, smartass adolescent Igby Slocumb (Kieran Culkin) is adrift in New York City: his monied mother despises him, his snot-nosed brother manages him, his father is mentally incapacitated, and everyone he meets betrays him. After fleeing his captivity in a military school, Igby goes o­n the lam in New York and meets a cast of personalities no o­ne ever needs: the destructive smack head (Amanda Peet), the spoiled, fickle girlfriend (Claire Danes), the disingenuous property owner (Jeff Goldblum), and Igby's preppie brother (Ryan Phillippe) who turns up everywhere, following instructions from their relentlessly ruthless mother (Susan Sarandon).

Writer/director Burr Steers has fashioned an American indie classic: with Culkin's incisive portrayal of adolescent anguish worthy of a contemporary Holden Caulfield, Igby takes us down into the maelstrom of America's affluent disaffection. His o­nly enduring legacy in the midst of this cruel and unholy familial dysfunction is money. Deprived of nurturing and love from inception, Igby discovers the sad urban truth that he is far too young to know: the world is cruel and uncaring, and money is the o­nly currency that allows o­ne a fighting chance for survival. You may despise most of the characters in Igby's flawed world, but his inclusion in it (noting Culkin's breakout performance) gives us pause to consider his particular brand of saving grace.

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