4 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
to live and die in hollywood This edgy little film about the inner workings of Hollywood is based on Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Illyich.

We start in the busy office of a high-powered agent, where at the morning meeting the team learns their star agent Ivan Beckham (Huston) has died, surprisingly, of lung cancer. Everyone thinks it's a cover story for a fatal drug, alcohol and sex binge. From here we flash back to Ivan's last days, during which he lures a big star (Weller) over to his camp, struggles with his girlfriend (Enos), handles a hyphenate client (Merendino) whose last writer-director-actor triumph was a film called Angelic Convulsions, spars with his father and sister (Graham and Duckman), parties very hard ... and tries to ignore the news his doctor has just given him.

Shot on digital video, the film has the feeling of improvised Dogme--intimate, unpredictable and so startlingly natural that it takes the breath away. This is due both to Rose's intrusive camera work and Huston's raw performance. Ivan's self-delusion is written all over his face, yet in Hollywood no one seems to notice. And as he descends into near madness, facing his mortality, the film takes on an almost elegiac tone (foreshadowed in the opening sequence, which has heavy Sunset Blvd overtones).

The story itself is brilliantly acerbic, blackly funny and surprisingly nervy--a searing look into the dark glamour of showbizz, playing on the idea that it's "difficult to maintain a sense of decency as an agent." Yes, it's all a bit of an inside job, and the colour-washed video sheen makes it look cheap and nasty, like someone's home movies blown up too big. But perhaps that's the point.

cert 18 adult themes and situations, language, nudity, drugs 9.May.02

dir Bernard Rose
scr Bernard Rose, Lisa Enos
with Danny Huston, Lisa Enos, Peter Weller, James Merendino, Morgan Vukovic, Adam Krentzman, Joanne Duckman, Robert Graham, Victoria Silvstedt, Alex Butler, Valeria Golino, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen
release US 7.Jun.02; UK 19.Jul.02
01/US 1h32

He's got a gun! Ivan, Don and Charlotte admire their colleague's sidearm (Huston, Weller and Enos).
See also:
The Kreutzer Sonata (2008) Boxing Day (2012)

22nd Shadows Awards 22nd

Danny Huston

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
to live and die in hollywood send your review to Shadows... "I've now seen this film twice. Second time around it was just as brilliant as the first ... any resemblance to any one living or dead is fully intended or should be inferred." --Sue, UK 7.Oct.02
© 2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall