Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

3. Vlad Ivanov as Mr. Bebe in 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

You need to get an illegal abortion in Communist Romania, 1987, you go to a hotel room and wait for the guy who calls himself, with leaden irony, Mr. Bebe (pronounced bay-bay, as in the French word for baby). In the year's best foreign-language film, Bebe is a monster, no question, but not a screamer. His voice is icily controlled; he could issue a death sentence without inflection. Solidly built and sporting a leather jacket, Ivanov suggests the Brando of The Wild One — just extract the humanity and leave in the sociopathic brutality. I know nothing about the actor except that he's made movies in four languages (Romanian, Russian, French and English) and that his name suggests a Russian heritage. In fact, he has some of Vladimir Putin's glacial charisma and sexual threat. I wouldn't care to be in a hotel room with either of them; but I look forward to more Ivanov movies, to see if he's got the same sick radiance, like a walking Chernobyl.