By Mark Fulton | November 13, 2010

Imagine if Oliver Stone’s Wall Street or David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross had a central character who was a high-functioning, somewhat autistic, man. This outstanding character study tosses aside predictable melodrama for nuances of eccentric behavior.

Ivan is a most peculiar individual. He sees the mathematics of love and attraction in addition to his day job, a high end stockbroker in The Netherlands, trading fortunes in the blink of an eye. At the beginning, he’s a promising trainee and his mentor takes a chance on him; it immediately pays off. But Ivan isn’t interested in wealth or lots of money—though he likes his new apartment—but rather the mathematical solving of problems of a vast complicated system.

The closest cinematic comparison I can give to Ivan is the protagonist of Darren Aronofsky’s Pi. But there’s no outright mental illness here or conspiracy theories. Instead is a portrait focusing solely on a unique character. Eccentricity rarely gets such a multi-faceted portrayal. Oscar Van Rompay embodies Ivan so completely that the very particular way he moves becomes just as important as anything he says or does. I asked Van Rompay in the screening’s Q&A if he had studied dance. He has not. This makes the performance all the more remarkable.

Examples of Ivan’s eccentric behavior: When he asks an attractive receptionist out on a date he does so in the third person as if positing a math theorem. When he takes her back to his place he shows her baby mice in a floor air duct like they were chicks fresh from eggs. When under a stressful crunch from work he goes out into the Amsterdam night. Instead of shacking up in the red light district he goes to a hostel with sleeping arrangements like army barracks. There are dozens of others that can be pointed out. His more normal side is shown too. Ivan reaches out to a shy co-worker in order to help him come out of his shell.

Writer-director Jaap van Heusden and Oscar Van Rompay are to be commended for making a financial industry boiler room drama that side-steps major clichés. Cinematographer Jan Moeskops shoots the cool corporate environment in a way that’s somehow captivating. The broad structure of a rise and fall story is present but Ivan is so unique that it feels fresh and new. Win/Win is one of this year’s best.

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  1. Annemarie Harbo says:

    Een juweel van een film. Heel mooi weergegeven, dat Ivan eerst met plezier de werkdag tegemoet ging en veel overschot aan energie had en langzamerhand door het milieu van de nieuwe baan en de domme dure flat zich ingesloten ging voelen en zijn energie ging verliezen. Maar hij behoudt zijn respekt en waarde door de hele film en dat komt ook tot uiting in de beslissing om de baan op te zeggen. Een situatie, die heel veel mensen kennen, maar vaak is het moeilijk om het zelf te zien en ook die beslissing te maken. Oskar van Rompay is precies de juiste persoon, ook omdat hij Belg is. Achtergrond muziek ook goed, maar het geluid was wisselend hard en zacht, moeilijk te volgen. Was een goed initiatief van Giusy Naitana om deze avond voor de NDV te organiseren

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