Irma Vep

A twin portrait of both the acclaimed Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung as well as the French film industry as seen through the eyes of one of its main arbiters, Assayas’ Irma Vep slyly skewers the idea of the stable film production. Led by the erratic, disjointed artistic vision of past-prime Réné Vidal (Jean-Pierre Léaud), who embarks on a remake of the Louis Feuillade serial Les Vampires (1915), the film is as much about the unraveling of the crew as it is about the reasons behind making such a film in the first place. Cheung plays herself in the titular role, a portrait of an artist at work in an unworkable situation, and when the production is taken from Vidal and given to another director whose motivations are unclear, the project takes on an entirely new meaning. “The whole point is that the world is constantly changing, and that as an artist one must always invent new devices, new tools, to describe new feelings, new situations. . . If we don’t invent our own values, our own syntax, we will fail at describing our own world.”—Olivier Assayas. (French with English subtitles)

Genres: Drama, Comedy