Irma Vep

on April 30, 1997 by Ed Scheid
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  &#160A has-been French director (played by Jean-Pierre Leaud) hires Hong Kong action star Maggie Cheung (playing herself) to star as a jewel thief in a rmake of a silent classic serial, "Les Vampires," which he plans to shoot as a silent also. The director is ridiculed by the crew as he loses control. Meanwhile, Cheung is having her own problems: She doesn't speak French and must deal with the advanced of a lesbian costume designer (Nathalie Richard).
   "Irma Vep" is much lighter than the emotional studies that were writer/director Olivier Assayas' previous works. The most interesting element of this film is an initial culture clash between the Asian actress and French intellectuals. Assayas' screenplay makes clever satirical observations on the French film industry, but the characters and situations are superficially developed, particularly when Cheung attempts to get into character by trying to steal jewels from a woman's hotel room. Overall, this look behind the scenes at French filmmaking suffers in comparison with a classic like Truffaut's "Day for Night" (which also starred Leaud). Starring Maggie Cheung and Jean-Pierre Leaud. Directed and written by Olivier Assayas. Produced by Georges Benayoun. A Zeitgeist release. Comedy. French-language; English subtitles. Not yet rated. Running time: 98 min. Screened at Telluride.
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