ivans xtc. | Chicago Reader

ivans xtc.

Writer-director Bernard Rose updates Tolstoy's “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” transposing the action from a stiflingly conventional enclave of Russian civil servants to glitzy, decadent Hollywood (2000). This Ivan (Danny Huston) is a young, drug-addicted talent agent who ruthlessly steals a promising director (James Merendino) and an A-list actor (Peter Weller, in a devastating parody of Jack Nicholson) from rivals. When he's told he has a tumor in his lung he begins a long suicidal descent. Rose, who wrote the script with Lisa Enos (who plays Ivan's coked-up, self-absorbed girlfriend), handles the adaptation loosely, focusing on Ivan's deal making and partying, not on his futile search for a cure. He doesn't quite make us feel the waste of Ivan's life or the tragic transcendence of his death, but Huston's performance is spellbinding. And the naturally lit digital cinematography (by Rose and Ron Forsythe) is both poetic and harrowingly intimate in depicting Ivan's impending death. 90 min.

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