Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5  
ivans xtc (2002)
18

Based on Leo Tolstoy's novella "The Death of Ivan Ilyich", "ivans xtc" (pronounced "Ivan's Ecstasy") was inspired in part by Jay Moloney, the CAA agent and legendary Hollywood figure who, after succumbing to cocaine addiction, hanged himself in 1999.

But it is also an attempt by Bernard Rose to free himself from the Hollywood machine that butchered his 1997 adaptation of "Anna Karenina".

Shot on high definition digital video, "ivans xtc" opens with news of the death of Ivan Beckman (Huston), a charming, charismatic talent agent at the peak of his powers.

Flashing back "Citizen Kane"-style, it then recreates Ivan's final days, in which the triumph of wooing action man Don West (Weller) to his agency is juxtaposed by the sudden discovery that he is suffering from inoperable lung cancer.

Alienated from his family and estranged from his producer girlfriend (Enos), Ivan embarks on a binge of drugs and sex - tellingly held in the same hotel suite where Fatty Arbuckle and Charlie Chaplin used to hold their real-life orgies.

What follows is the most savage attack on Tinseltown since 1992's "The Player", though this time there are no star cameos to sweeten the pill.

Where the Dogme 95 directors had high-minded hopes of bringing cinema back to basics, Rose's use of digital photography is a far more personal challenge to the studios' domination of the industry.

But although it is tinged with his own feelings of bitterness and betrayal, "ivans xtc" nonetheless emerges as a powerful, chilling, and affecting study of one man's dying fall.

End Credits

Director: Bernard Rose

Writer: Bernard Rose, Lisa Enos

Stars: Danny Huston, Peter Weller, Lisa Enos, James Merendino, Adam Krentzman, Alison Taylor, Joanne Duckman, Robert Graham

Genre: Drama

Length: 92 minutes

Cinema: 19 July 2002

Country: USA

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