Tolstoy's story ends on a note of ecstasy, a defining and timeless moment in which the dying man finally achieves what he has always lacked—an inner life and a higher authority. Ivan Beckman's ecstasy, however affecting, feels facile and unearned, the consequence more of a blessed release from Hollywood than of any internal epiphany. The Death of Ivan Ilyich asks, on a universal scale, what a man may expect from his death if he lives a meaningless life. In the end, I'm not sure that ivans xtc. asks much more than why anyone would want to work at CAA.
ivans xtc. was directed by Bernard Rose; written by Rose and Lisa Enos, based on The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy; produced by Enos; and stars Danny Huston. Now playing at Laemmle's Fairfax, Los Angeles.