Friday, September 20, 2002

Igby Goes Down (IMDB) (Netflix)
Kieran Culkin is Igby, the too-cool-for-any-school teen (parochial, prep and military--nailing the disaffectedness trifecta) with an institutionalized father and a pill-popping, shrewish mom (Susan Sarandon) who's dying of breast cancer. He gets beat up at least three times and the opening scene has him and brother Ryan Philippe killing their mom. A sure-fire comedy premise.

Sure, but the writing is knife-edge sharp, charming without ever becoming maudlin, varied in tone while holding its center. Kieran is the least cute and maybe the best of the acting Culkins, and the rest of the cast is rock-solid and even inspired, adding Jeff Goldblum, Amanda Peet, Claire Danes, Bill Irwin and especially Jared Harris to an already rich mix of alienating personalities.