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Irma Vep


Director: Olivier Assayas

Stars: Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Nathalie Richard

While this movie seems to have been well-reviewed, I really found only one thing of interest in it: the lovely Maggie Cheung running about in a latex catsuit. Irma Vep is (according to a review) supposed to be a "scathingly funny" indictment on the French movie industry, as Maggie (playing herself) travels to France to star in a remake of the silent movie Les Vampires, which is being directed by a mumble-mouthed burn-out (Jean-Pierre Leaud). The set is in chaos, and Maggie finds her only friend in a lesbian junkie costume designer (Nathalie Richard).

And that's about it. I must admit I have never been a huge fan of French movies becuase they are so damn talky -- and there is a whole lot of talking here, mostly whining and bitching from everyone invloved. Maggie doesn't like Hong Kong movies (this movie was Maggie's first in two years because she had gotten tired of the HK film industry and, more specifically, the hounding tabloid reporters around it, and her character seems to reflect these feelings), the French people don't like French movies, and everyone hates American movies. In the end, Irma Vep just seemed like a bunch of pointless bickering -- I felt like I didn't know the French film industry (or the people involved in it) any better than before I had watched this film.

As for the comedy, I really didn't see it. There are a few mildly funny bits, like when Maggie laments that her shoot in Hong Kong went over by "a whole week" (which would be like a couple of months in Hollywood) or Maggie's over-dramatic co-star. But otherwise, I guess I just didn't get the jokes -- but then again, the French do consider Jerry Lewis one of the greatest showmen of all time, so maybe I did see the jokes and they just weren't funny.

Really, the only reason to watch this movie is Maggie Cheung. "The Magster" is as charming as ever and looks great throughout the movie. She brings a nice sense of warmth and naturalism to her role that many of the other actors seem to be missing, as they are trying way too hard to be natural and failing in the process. While her performance is good, it's not great enough to recommend Irma Vep for a viewing, unless you're really curious as to how Maggie Cheung's English is (it's quite good -- as could be expected from someone who spent a good deal of her childhood growing up in England -- and her British accent sounds pretty sexy). Maggie must have really enjoyed her time on the set, though -- she later ended up marrying the director and now spends most of her time in France.


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