Irish Film Institute -Ivans xtc.

Ivans xtc.

Talented but inconsistent British director Bernard Rose, whose films range from the cult horror item Candyman to an adaptation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, has come up with a real surprise in this excoriating portrait of the life and death of a Hollywood talent agent. ivans xtc. was inspired by Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and by the sad fate of real Hollywood agent Joe Moloney, a once powerful player who represented the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Stephen Spielberg before being sacked for his drug addiction.
In Rose’s film, an excellent Danny Huston (the genial, rich-voiced son of the legendary John Huston) plays Ivan Beckman, the most charismatic and dynamic figure at Media Talent Agency. Effortlessly pulling deals out of thin air by smoothing egos and charming everyone in sight, Ivan achieves his greatest coup by stealing crazed mega-star Don West (Peter Weller) from a rival agency. But Ivan’s private life is in meltdown, and his professional triumph coincides with the news that he has cancer.
The first half of Rose’s film presents a terrifying vision of Hollywood Babylon, with all its excesses captured in the sickly colours of a prying video camera. The second and much more controlled second half, which allows us to appreciate Ivan’s predicament as he slides towards oblivion, is extremely powerful and even genuinely moving. Huston’s extraordinary performance captures a sense of a life slipping out of control. Rose gives his actor plenty of room to develop the role as he boldly shifts the film’s style from B-movie flamboyance to grandiose seriousness. The results make for the kind of honest, darkly illuminating reflection on Hollywood that the mainstream industry itself is totally incapable of admitting, yet alone dramatising.
U.S.A., 2000. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 94 mins.

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