HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Furnace, The
Tyrel
Iceman
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
Pittsburgh
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
   
 
Newest Articles
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
   
 
  Irma Vep Night For Night
Year: 1996
Director: Olivier Assayas
Stars: Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Nathalie Richard, Antoine Basler, Natalie Boutefeu, Alex Descas, Dominique Faysse, Arsinée Khanjian, Bernard Nissile, Olivier Torres, Bulle Ogier, Lou Castel, Jacques Fieschi, Estelle Larrivaz, Balthazar Clémenti
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Maggie Cheung (as herself) has signed up to star in a new production of the classic French serial Les Vampires, but when she arrives at the company's offices she's already a week late thanks to the film she was making in Hong Kong running over schedule. Even when she does show up, nobody seems very sure what is going on anyway, and she is somewhat lost as she does not speak the language quite as well as she would like, relying on those around her talking English to her. But she does know she's meant to be playing the superthief and adventuress Irma Vep - isn't she?

Writer and director Olivier Assayas had been making movies for about fifteen years before this, but Irma Vep was the work which truly won him international attention, mainly thanks to his choice of leading lady. Cheung was celebrated as one of cinema's great beauties, but unless you were an adherent of Hong Kong films you might not have recognised her, so this introduced the star to a whole new audience of film viewers who might not have considered, as Jean-Pierre Léaud's past his prime though still idealistic director does here, watching The Heroic Trio.

But Léaud's René Vidal does see her in that, perhaps just as Assayas did, and thought "There's our Irma!", leading not to a success in the climate of the film within a film, but one which casts a spell, not only over the audience watching it but over the characters as well. You had to accept that Cheung was in some way magical, and everyone here enchanted with her to some extent, from Vidal to the costumer Zoé (Nathalie Richard) who dresses Maggie in her skintight latex catsuit for the Les Vampires remake, and becomes her friend for the duration. That much was clear, but what was not so obvious was the meaning of all this, and there were no shortage of opinions on what Assayas was getting at.

Was this a tribute to François Truffaut, or some scathing criticism of French cinema? Certainly the original Louis Feuillade serial was not intended solely for the intellectuals, but Assayas at times has characters complain that the movies from their homeland are far too rarefied to appeal to the masses, and that elitism is ruining the popular art. But did he really believe that, you may well wonder, as surely his own work here was part of that tradition? Actually, this was far more playful than it might first appear with its documentary style approach to make real what was assuredly artificial, and at points that artifice broke down to reveal the conceit of creating a film about creating a film and how the whole exercise was by necessity self-referential.

Take the most celebrated sequence, where Maggie gets back to her hotel late at night as the production is falling down around her ears, and dresses in her costume to do do what she's not being allowed to do during the shoot: actually become Irma Vep. She skulks around the corridors, hiding from passersby, until she creeps into a room and steals a necklace from a naked woman, then heads up to the roof in the rain... if anything is arty it's this, and the way it's presented as perhaps being all a dream only enforces that synthetic feel which the matter of fact framing belies. This was one of those artworks which endlessly obsesses over itself and its form, which would either captivate you or leave you wondering what the fuss was about. Fortunately, Cheung was able to work her magic simply by pretending to be herself, leaving this one of the most unusual pictures that a major star ever undertook, so even if you found this confounding or pretentious she was the reason you appreciated it, being the one unsullied presence in the story.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2898 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (3)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: