Irma Vep

Critics Consensus

Starring a bewitching Maggie Cheung, Irma Vep is an evocative and reflexive satire of the filmmaking process that is bursting at the seams with an affection for cinema.

92%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 37

71%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,980
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Movie Info

A has-been French filmmaker makes a desperate comeback attempt with an homage to "Les Vampires." Maggie plays a cat-like jewel thief and discovers that the director is a laughing stock. Becoming totally immersed in her part, Maggie starts sneaking about her hotel dressed in a black cat-suit.

Cast

Mireille
as Bulle Ogier
Bulle Ogier
as Mireille
Arsinée Khanjian
as American Woman
Antoine Basler
as Journalist
Pierre Amzallag
as Emergency Doctor
Alex Descas
as Desormeaux
Françoise Clavel
as Rene's Wife
Balthazar Clémenti
as Robert, Assistant
Lara Cowez
as Script Supervisor
Olivier Torres
as Ferdinand/Moreno
Jessica Doyle
as Jessica, Roland's Friend
Sandra Faure
as Sex Shop Salesperson
Catherine Ferny
as Policewoman
Maryel Ferraud
as Make-up Woman
Filip Forgeau
as Camera Operator
Nicolas Giraudin
as Unit Manager
Valérie Guy
as Valérie, In Mireille's Apartment
Odile Horion
as Zoé's Assistant
Laurent Jacquet
as Electrician
Estelle Larrivaz
as Switchboard Operator
Alain Martin
as Boy At "Café Des Oiseaux"
Willy Martin
as Bellboy
Smail Mekki
as Kermor, Unit Manager
Maurice Najman
as Maurice, Roland's Friend
Jérôme Simonin
as Property Man
Alexandra Yonnet
as Lili, Markus' Friend
View All

Critic Reviews for Irma Vep

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (3)

  • Though Irma Vep may be best appreciated by movieheads, it's hardly just an homage. By its shrieking avant-garde climax, it's more like a statement on how history, even filmed history, can fragment and dissolve into oblivion.

    October 25, 2019 | Full Review…

    Michael Atkinson

    Spin
    Top Critic
  • Irma Vep is undeniably a complex and thought provoking work - but compared to the comparatively human films Assayas has made recently, it can't help but feel less rewarding as a result.

    November 12, 2018 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…
  • Light, playful, and self-reflexive, Assayas' film is a mi or work but it's enjoyable and boasts a graceful performance from Maggie Cheung.

    August 1, 2011 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • The post-modern compulsions on display here may bring movies together, but they also keep people apart.

    January 7, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • A wonderful tribute to filmmaking that could only be made in France, it has delightful performances and a low-budget style -- like the film it parodies -- which work beautifully.

    March 3, 2008 | Full Review…
    Film4
    Top Critic
  • Irma Vep's director, Olivier Assayas, evinces a love of the process that's nearly as palpable as Truffaut's.

    March 3, 2008 | Full Review…

    David Edelstein

    Slate
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Irma Vep

  • Jun 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.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 08, 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.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jul 01, 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.
    Brett W Super Reviewer
  • Apr 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.
    Nicki M Super Reviewer

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