Irma Vep (1996) / Comedy-Drama

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for themes and language
Running Time: 99 min.

Cast: Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Nathalie Richard, Antoine Baster
Director: Olivier Assayas
Screenplay: Olivier Assayas
Review published October 29, 1997

Playing herself, but not really, Maggie Cheung (Ashes of Time, The Heroic Trio) travels to Paris to appear in an artsy remake of a classic vampire film Les Vampires, called Irma Vep. The film has problems, due to the waning popularity of the director and his New Wave, personal style. Meanwhile, one of the costume designers takes a fancy towards Maggie, while Maggie begins to become obsessed with her role. The press is against the film-making endeavor, favoring films made for the people like Batman over personal films like Irma Vep.

Sort of a mix between a realistic portrayal of the complications of film-making (a la Living in Oblivion) and a satirical look at how the personal nature of French film is being pervaded by popular American and Hong Kong sensibilities. A terrific cast shines, and Maggie Cheung's inclusion is a nice twist. In fact the acting is so good, it almost has a documentary/script-less feel to it. The point of the film isn't always clear, but it's still a very interesting and thought-provoking endeavor that is recommended for those who have a knowledge and love of French cinema.

Qwipster's rating:

1997 Vince Leo