Mailbu's Most Wanted

Kieran Culkin, Claire Danes, Jeff Goldblum, Susan Sarandon, Rory Culkin. Directed by Burr Steers.
Running Time: 97 mins
Rated: MA 15+

The poster for Igby notes that the Slocumb family in this film make the Royal Tennenbaums seem normal. There's a lot in that claim. What we see is an extremely dysfunctional family, embodying all the ills and quirks of , at least, contemporary USA. It opens with Igby (Kieran Culkin in an intelligent performance of a difficult role) and his brother, Oliver (Ryan Philippe, speaking as usual in a kind of strangulated preppie manner) assisting their mother (Susan Sarandon as a self-absorbed snob) to commit suicide.

As the film flashes back, we are given portraits of the two boys, Oliver the perfect one and Igby always in trouble and having to continually move schools, their nice father (Bill Pullman) who is about to experience a schizophrenic collapse and their controlling mother. When Igby runs away from military college, he ends up in New York working for his entrepreneur godfather (Jeff Goldblum), his girlfriend (Amanda Peet) and her camp, drug-dealing artist friend (Jared Harris). The only bright spot is friendship with an older girl named Sookie (Claire Danes).

Igby is depressed, confused, comparing himself to his brother. He loathes his mother, clashes with his godfather over an entanglement with his girlfriend and is reduced to being a drug courier. His dream is of escaping everyone and going to California. It is his mother's illness that brings things to a head, a little more optimistically than the rather black screenplay would have led us to believe. What we have is a gallery of eccentric characters acting in absurd ways, often with a clever way with words, materialistic and self-centred. Satire is an art form that enables the creator to mock society while implying that it should be so much better. That seems to be the intention of writer-director, Burr Steers.

Fr Peter Malone is the International President of SIGNIS: the World Association for Catholic Communicators and an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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