Director: Mike Mills
Screenwriters: Mike Mills

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


Addiction can take many forms: drugs, gambling, sex, and food are common ones. But for Justin Cobb, it's thumbsucking. A bright but awkward high-school teen, he wants to quit, but nothing works. He tries everything from putting ink on his thumb (a tip from his woefully uncommunicative father) to hypnosis from his New Age orthodontist. He gets so desperate that when a school psychologist suggests using medication to help him focus, Justin leaps at the chance, despite his loving mother's concern. In a refreshingly original and humorous spin, the meds begin to work. But are they the answer or just a more acceptable form of pacification?

Thumbsucker features a truly extraordinary cast that turn in magnificent performances captured by exquisite cinematography—creating an ethereal aesthetic to shape a modern-day fairy tale filled with humor, charm, and fragile love.
Acclaimed graphic artist and music-video director Mike Mills returns to Sundance (his short, Architecture of Reassurance, played in 2000) with another beautifully rendered examination of suburban angst. With his feature debut, he delivers on his unlimited potential, displaying an amazing cinematic dexterity combined with an acute insight into the human condition to produce a visually stunning and thought-provoking portrait of addiction—rooted in suburbia, but relevant to everyone.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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