Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 2002. United Artists, Atlantic Streamline, Crossroads Films, Helkon Media. Screenplay by Burr Steers. Cinematography by Wedigo von Schultzendorff. Produced by Lisa Tornell, Marco Weber. Music by Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen. Production Design by Kevin Thompson. Costume Design by Sarah Edwards. Film Editing by William M. Anderson, Padraic McKinley. Golden Globe Awards 2002. Independent Spirit Awards 2002. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2002. National Board of Review Awards 2002.
Kieran Culkin gives a fine performance as Igby, a troubled teenager who constantly infuriates his socially upstanding mother (Susan Sarandon) by getting himself kicked out of every prep school on the eastern seaboard. He eventually decides to strike out on his own, quitting his latest scholastic institution and becoming an independent man of New York City. The many characters he encounters include his morally dubious godfather (Jeff Goldblum), a junkie dancer (Amanda Peet) and a beautiful waitress (Claire Danes) with whom he falls in love. Ryan Phillippe gives a brilliantly subtle performance as Igby’s older brother, a cynical Republican who has no patience for his family’s lack of normality, while Bill Pullman gives his creepiest performance as the family’s mentally unstable patriarch. Highest praise goes to Sarandon’s most indelible acting put on screen yet: certainly her character’s wackier qualities are noticeable thanks to first-time director Burr Steers’ excellent screenplay, but even in the most darkly humorous situations it’s her ability to infuse the role with a genuine sense of humanity that makes it impossible to see anyone else playing it.