Directed by Burr Steers, starring Kieran Culkin, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, Ryan Philippe, Clare Danes, Bill Pullman and Amanda Peet.

Igby Slocomb's character first came to life in an unfinished novel penned by director Burr Steers. The written medium has obvious drawbacks and Steers eventually decided that the larger-than-life Igby should grace the big screen instead. The story is heavily influenced by Steer's own experiences and, with such a personal agenda, he was adamant about directing the film himself. The finished debut is a clever anti-establishment gem.

Igby Slocomb (Culkin) is the youngest son of a wealthy New York family. His schizophrenic father (Pullman) is in an institution 'recuperating from life', his pill-popping mother Mimi (Sarandon) is pushy and distant. Oliver (Phillippe), his only sibling, is an uber-Republican materialist attending Columbia. Railing against conformity and tethered by ennui, Igby routinely gets himself kicked out of a series of prep schools. Mimi enrols her youngest offspring in an army discipline school, which strengthens his resolve to resist the destiny his family have planned for him. With his mother's stolen gold card, he goes on a hedonistic spree, finishing up in New York. Here, Igby manages to convince the mistress (Peet) of his capitalist uncle (Goldblum) to let him stay at her apartment. He encounters a hodge-podge of ne'er-do-well artists and dodgy characters while experimenting with drugs and women - including his uncle's girlfriend.

For a spell, the world is young Igby's cart of crustaceans as he escapes school and Upper West Side snobbery. High living with low lifes has its kicks but it's not long before Igby learns one of his first valuable life lessons - what goes up, must come down. He falls for boho college girl Sookie (Danes) and loses her to an unlikely source. Every preconception he has about his family is questioned the more he rails against society. For Igby, money and class hinder as well as help because of the expected pay-back of conformity.

Culkin is brilliant as the likeable anti-hero, who can flip the coin of vulnerability and arrogance effortlessly. It's not surprising that the film started out as a book and there is a strong literary resonance throughout. The dialogue is fluid and the humour is very dark and very funny. The characters are so obnoxious that they're endearing, with real development despite their shallowness. This is a promising debut, massively enjoyable and kicks the 'coming-of-age' genre in the ass.

Sinéad Gleeson