Irma Vep Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ April 15, 2009
Style over substance, but it works. And just as well, because there is not much of an actual storyline.
Actress Maggie travels to France to star in a remake of an old movie. The movie is about the making of that movie, which never really pans out. It's interesting and Maggie is well suited to the role. I also enjoyed her relationship with Zoe. The "completed" movie at the end is interesting too.
Super Reviewer
July 8, 2012
A director tries to remake Les Vampires.
I'm not really sure what I saw. On the one hand, I see some clever satire about French film here, especially with the interviewer complaining about intellectual film in an intellectual film, Rene's mumblingly intense focus on process, and the costume designer using a bondage mask. On the other hand, I think one would have to know the history behind Les Vampires in order to be in on the joke, and I'm not sure what to make of the romance between Maggie and Zoe. And what is going one with Maggie Cheung playing herself? Once again, I feel like there's a reason for this choice, but it isn't communicated with any clarity.
Overall, I left this film confused and not in a good way.
Super Reviewer
½ June 28, 2013
Shades of the later Tristram Shandy and earlier Truffaut films, we have the story of a film within a film and all the drama that occurs outside of where the camera is shooting. While good at times, it often feels lost.
Super Reviewer
½ July 1, 2010
A movie about a failed movie that ends up being a failed movie...gee...what paradox. Save yourself an hour and thirty minutes and just skip to the 55 min mark which is the only worth while scene in the film; the lovely Maggie Cheung in a rainy, Blade Runner-esque rooftop scene. Other than her drop-dead gorgeousness and that brief moment of poetic cinematography, this is an extraordinary failure of "story within a story" storytelling...mostly because there is no story. There's no focus at all unless you count the bland, never ending, disoriented French/Chinese culture clash.
Super Reviewer
June 25, 2008
Lots of inside jokes, especially for fans of Truffaut.
Super Reviewer
½ April 23, 2006
I don't know how to react to this movie - it's uber-stylish and Maggie Cheung's wide-eyed disorientation is perfect (I mean, the role was written for her, after all); it's an entertaining glimpse into the behind-the-scenes catfights in filmmaking, as well. The hand-held cam gives it a documentary touch and gives us a sense of Maggie's disorientation in a foreign land, and of the disconnect between the people on-set. But do I love it? Needs a second viewing...
½ October 18, 2010
This movie is all kitsch, and that isn't completely bad. It has a simple tale to tell about the remake of a classic silent movie stumper that was one of the originals that was more about style over substance. So this movie drops a bit of style over the mundane matter of making a movie in France.

But that is the catch, it is a contrast of the mundane and surreal inflection of style. It has an appeal, but nothing to be overwhelmed about. Maggie is good and the director and costume girl are good, but nothing seems to matter in this movie except the references to the old movie and how it seems to taint the mundane world. This movie just sort of sits there and points to good things while you stare forward.
½ May 4, 2008
Really enjoyed this film within a film. Maggie Cheung is amazing, as are the other characters. I especially loved Zoé. Beautifully made.
October 27, 2006
well, it didn't really go anywhere, but i guess that matchs it's satire. for all the praise this movie posted to the cover, it really kinda disapointed. i mean, there where parts i liked alot, but so much of it was just, i don't know, blah. again, it's supposed to be balh, but maybe it paropdies it's subject matter a little too well. yeah, that's the nice way to put it.
October 6, 2013
This is a movie that one will either love or hate. I doubt that there are few people who will view it and find it to be "ok" -- it demands a reaction. Filmed in 1996, Olivier Assayas' thoughtful cinematic essay on 'the art of French Film' is so cool it almost burns. From the music on the soundtrack (Sonic Youth / Luna / Ry Cooder) , the slickly planned "verite-ish" camera work and the kink costume - this movie is totally late 1990's chic cool. But there is much more going on here that being cool. Assayas is exploring the past, current and future state of French Cinema. The "plot" of the film is an older and emotionally fragile filmmaker attempting to remake the historic and cinematically-relavent Louis Feuillade and his iconic silent film serial, LES VAMPIRES. ...A work that you will recognize upon site even if you've not seen any of it.

Feuillade's films were both very French and yet universally appealing. LES VAMPIRES was not afraid of being entertaining for the sake of entertainment but it was also stylized and oddly erotic. And, Feuillade's work remains interestingly current in both look and plot. Assayas film captures a confused and chaotic film crew attempting to both please their director and push against him. The characters, including a particularly annoying TV Journalist, hold the production in contempt for several reasons: it is not commercial enough to make money, it is being made for the French Intelligentsia and more than a few feel it odd that the director has chosen an Asian actress (played with natural brilliance and beauty by Maggie Cheung) in an Iconic Role of French Cinema. As another filmmaker notes, why cast a Chinese woman to play a character who was created to represent The French Lower Class?

The film gives its final punch when we, along with the cast, see the small amount of edited footage created by the fictional director. The small bit of footage is inspiring, artistic, disturbing and something all together new -- and, yes, cool.

If you love Cinema, and you have a particular fondness for French Nouvelle Vague -- you will love Olivier Assayas slick and totally cool meditation of the state of French Cinema.
½ August 2, 2012
"I feel like I'm disappearing, getting smaller everyday. But when I look in the mirror I'm Irma in everyway."
May 9, 2012
Olivier Assayas channels the great French New Wave directors of the 1960's and 70's in this stylish account of a declining film maker who is desperate to make his next film, and the people involved.
February 2, 2012
"Irma Vep" is a unique French movie that will entertain, make you think, and laugh all at the same time. This is a perfect example of a film that needs to be more highly ranked among others. Washed-up French director Rene Vidal (Léaud) hopes to turn his career around with an update of "Les Vampires", a silent-era masterpiece about a notorious ring of thieves, lead by the sleek Irma Vep. Rene decides to cast Chinese starlet Maggie Cheung (playing herself) to portray Vep, but a bunch of setbacks cloud the set. Maggie doesn't speak a word of the French language, she's being pursued by an obsessive lesbian crew member named Zoe (Richard), and her character's immoral ways begin to rub off her in the wrong way. Filmed in semi-documentary style, "Irma Vep" just might be one of the most simple but brilliant movies ever made. The film, which revolves around the crew creating the failure of the remake, is funny, dramatic, and really realistic, which not only makes the film memorable, but it keeps it fresh enough to where it could survive today. Filmed with flair, "Irma Vep" keeps its status as a supposed art-house movie, but still is a biting satire on how independent movies work, which yet again, keeps it exciting. As a bonus, Maggie Cheung is simple but great in her role, and the aging Jean-Pierre Léaud gives an awesome performance as well. I really loved "Irma Vep", but I'm finding myself not being able to say too much without describing scenes of the film-- just watch it for yourself. Recommended.
½ August 10, 2010
Sexy, funny and really cool.
½ February 8, 2008
A "comedy" about film criticism.
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