Irma Vep (1996)

Irma Vep (1996)

A satiric take on French filmmaking through the eyes of Maggie Cheung

The Very Best

8.1

Movie

France
English, French
Comedy, Drama
1996
OLIVIER ASSAYAS
Alex Descas, Antoine Basler, Arsinée Khanjian
99 min

What it's about

Hong Kong action diva Maggie Cheung (playing herself) comes to France when a past-his-prime director casts her in a remake of the silent classic Les Vampires. Clad in a rubber catsuit and unable to speak a word of French, Cheung finds herself adrift in the insanity of the film industry…

The take

In this film-within-a-film, we and a fictional version of actress Maggie Cheung are brought through the disorienting experience of French filmmaking. The film’s washed-up director wants to remake the classic silent film Les Vampires to revive his career. But as with all plans, everything inevitably goes wrong. On top of depicting the regular chaos of a movie set, this film presents the anxieties of the modern-day French film industry—about how it may be past its prime, and how it can still compete on a global level. And through the steady, inscrutable face of Maggie Cheung, we remember the creative collaborations we've had ourselves—the energetic passion, the behind-the-scenes power dynamics, and the pure chaos of the process.

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