Olivier AssayasFrance99 minutes1996ColourFrench English
View Irma Vep during the Irma Vep preceded by Recrudescence and Man Yuk: A Portrait of Maggie Cheung event.
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"An unexpected masterpiece" (Jonathan Rosenbaum). Deceptively modest and endlessly fascinating, Assayas' satirical reflection on the state of French cinema circa 1996 features Hong Kong megastar Maggie Cheung, who plays herself, creeping across the rooftops of Paris in a latex catsuit as she recreates the role of villainess Irma Vep in a remake of Louis Feuillade's 1915 classic Les Vampires. Speaking no French, the ever graceful Cheung floats through the increasingly troubled production, which is freighted with a feuding crew, a fading nouvelle vague–era auteur (played by nouvelle vague legend Jean-Pierre Léaud), and the pressure of a contemporary cinema that has no time for art (embodied in a philistine interviewer who rhapsodizes about John Woo). As the production disintegrates, so too does the narrative and the border between reality and dream, as the film slowly transforms into a reflection on the nature of the medium itself.