Hong Kong megastar Maggie Cheung is divine in the lead of Olivier Assayas’ brilliant behind-the-screen satire, about a beleaguered Parisian film crew struggling to shoot a remake of Louis Feuillade’s silent crime epic Les Vampires.
Hong Kong megastar Maggie Cheung plays herself, creeping across the rooftops of Paris in a latex catsuit as she recreates the role of villainess Irma Vep in a remake of Louis Feuillade's 1915 classic Les Vampires. Speaking no French, the ever graceful Cheung floats through the increasingly troubled production, which is freighted with a feuding crew, a fading nouvelle vague–era auteur (played by nouvelle vague legend Jean-Pierre Léaud), and the pressure of a contemporary cinema that has no time for art (embodied in a philistine interviewer who rhapsodizes about John Woo). As the production disintegrates, so does the narrative and the border between reality and dream, the film slowly transforming into a reflection on the nature of the form itself.
Irma Vep was shot on Super 16mm and originally released in prints that were blown up to 35mm, which increased the film grain and lessened the sharpness of the image. With this new digital restoration created directly from the original film elements and supervised by Assayas himself, Irma Vep returns looking better, and feeling more timely, than ever before.