Irma Vep

Screening on Film
Directed by Olivier Assayas.
With Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Nathalie Richard.
France, 1997, 35mm, color and b&w, 97 min.
French with English subtitles.

In this clever, self-reflexive work, a neurotic, idealistic director (Léaud) attempts to remake Feuillade's Les Vampires, but his plans quickly unravel. Assayas partly improvises the film, which charts the experiences of Hong Kong actress Cheung (playing herself) who arrives in Paris to take the lead role of Irma Vep in the doomed project. Crew members come on to her, journalists lecture her on the future of cinema, Léaud cracks up and Cheung starts having strange dreams. This delightfully nonchalant yet sharply satirical film takes direct shots at contemporary French film culture and features fine performances throughout.

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