Irma Vep - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Irma Vep Reviews

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November 1, 2015
Nobody did an exceptional job, but the pace and narration are so natural that it really caught me. Olivier Assauas is a hard-core cinephile. Another film that seamlessly interconnects the real world with the world of cinema--probably the ultimate dream of every filmmaker.

Maggie Maggie, how can you be this amazing?

20151026 @ Anthology.
October 16, 2015
Irma Vep isn't nearly as probing as it thinks it is, content to make its simplistic criticism of french cinema plain instead of opting for subtlety. Its rushed production is obvious as well; the whole thing feels remarkably slapdash, relying on the charm of Maggie Cheung to enliven the lackluster material driving the project. This kind of thing isn't remotely new (François Truffaut's Day for Night touches on the same exact themes with more success, infusing genuine heart into its backstage antics as opposed to Irma Vep's adherence to an intentionally awkward, cold level of detachment) and this fact renders Assayas's film moderately redundant, a mildly amusing bit of navel-gazing that could've been more had more care gone into its construction.
November 27, 2013
gr8 movie within a movie reminds me of truffaut's 'day for night'
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.
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.
April 24, 2013
Fans of silent films, old French films and film production seen to enjoy it. I couldn't resist because it has Cheung in a catsuit. Maggie's great, especially when she's "slinking around the corridors of her hotel in her sheath of shiny black latex to the dissonant chords of Sonic Youth". The entire movie seems like a bland "making of" documentary. Good experimental short at the end, but mostly it's a mid-90's "behind the scenes" of a film where the director loses his mind and the lead is recast.
December 30, 2012
Directed by Olivier Assayas, (Cold Water (1994), Boarding Gate (2007) and Summer Hours (2008)), this is a very offbeat comedy-drama which takes a candid look at filmmaking and turns it on it's head more than once or twice. It was meant as a comment on French cinema in the mid-1990's, and what was going on, but it owes a debt of gratitude to François Truffaut's Day For Night (1973), which Assayas cites as heavy inspiration. It has Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung (playing herself) coming to France to act in a remake of Les Vampires (1915), being reimagined by director René Vidal (Jean-Pierre Léaud). Cheung will be playing the part of Irma Vep (an anagram of vampire), who spends most of the film remake dressed in a tight, black, latex rubber catsuit. However, as time goes on, Cheung finds herself becoming Irma Vep, and finds herself going out acreoss the rooftops of Paris in the catsuit, meanwhile the film's costume designer Zoe (Nathalie Richard) and director Vidal develop love crushes on Cheung as Irma Vep. It's a very original way of doing a film within a film, and the film switches back and forth between French and English at the flick of a switch, and it has some weird montages too, but it's a look about the nightmares directors face when making films and the horror at having to compromise. Assayas does good with the material and it's a good way of doing a remake, show it from another perspective, pull and and show it being made.
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."
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.
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 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.
September 19, 2010
I only took a look at this because Maggie Cheung, one of my favorite Hong Kong actresses is in it. Maggie stars as herself who arrives in Paris to star in a remake of an old French classic movie. However, the shoot doesn't go smooth with problem upon problem happening on set culminating in the director Rene Vidal suffering a nervous breakdown. Will the shoot for the movie ever be completed?

Maggie Cheung was just fantastic - serene and professional but increasingly absorbed in the odd role of "Irma Vep". So much so that the role, or at least the black latex catsuit, takes over away from the set, and her scene as Irma in her hotel is one of the movie's two highlights. The rest of the movie is is fascinating, and used as a vehicle for questioning where French cinema was going in the 1990s. This is brought out particularly well when Maggie is interviewed by a cynical French journalist. But somehow the sub-plots ,revolving around the tensions between crew members, don't match or illuminate the central theme. Overall, it's a movie well worth seeing for the star performance by Maggie Cheung but ultimately it's an experiment that doesn't quite come off - but you must stay with it to see the final 5 minutes.
½ August 10, 2010
Sexy, funny and really cool.
½ August 3, 2010
A fascinating study. The opposite of an American film.
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.
December 4, 2009
watched this in film class -- it was freaky and I have no IDEA what people though was so fucking great about it
June 21, 2009
Fascinating on many levels, and it all began with my love of "Heroic Trio". But seeing Maggie Cheung blush and grin like a little girl when she was told that Natalie Richard's character had a crush on her made me gush for days after whenever I recalled it.
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