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Irma Vep (1996)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  30 April 1997 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 3,128 users  
Reviews: 35 user | 46 critic

A Chinese movie actress, in France to star in a remake of "Les Vampires", finds petty intrigues and clashing egos on the set.

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Title: Irma Vep (1996)

Irma Vep (1996) on IMDb 6.9/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Maggie
...
René Vidal
Nathalie Richard ...
Zoé
Antoine Basler ...
Journalist
Nathalie Boutefeu ...
Laure
Alex Descas ...
Desormeaux
Dominique Faysse ...
Maïté
...
L'américaine
Bernard Nissile ...
Markus
Olivier Torres ...
Ferdinand / Moreno
Bulle Ogier ...
Mireille
...
José Mirano
Jacques Fieschi ...
Roland
Estelle Larrivaz ...
La standardiste
Balthazar Clémenti ...
Robert, assistant
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Storyline

Rene Vidal, a director in decline, decides to remake Louis Feuillade's silent serial "Les Vampires." Believing no French actress can match Musidora as Irma Vep (an anagram for vampire), he casts Hong Kong action heroine Maggie Cheung, though she speaks no French. On the chaotic set, she's aided by Zoe, the wardrobe mistress with a crush on her; she defends Vidal to a Parisian journalist who trashes all French film and praises John Woo and Schwarzenegger; she befriends Vidal when he goes over the edge; and, in costume, she breaks into a hotel suite to steal jewels as her victim talks on the phone. We also watch the making, the rushes, and the remains of Vidal's unfinished film. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

30 April 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Vampire  »

Box Office

Gross:

$191,164 (USA) (8 August 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title is the anagram of "vampire". See more »

Goofs

When Jose drinks his beer at the restaurant, he finishes it off. But then in the next shot he refinishes the same beer before the waiter brings him a new one. See more »

Connections

References Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Bonnie and Clyde
Written by Serge Gainsbourg
Performed by Luna
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User Reviews

Maggie Cheung and the embers of the French Avant-Garde
8 October 2004 | by (Melbourne, Australia) – See all my reviews

Irma Vep is a film about film-making, an insightful and disturbing film which delivers some beautiful voyeuristic glimpses of vampirism, realist cinema, gritty black-and-white cine-retro and the old men who were once the chic of the French avant-garde film clique.

IMDb says: "Rene Vidal, a director in decline, decides to remake Louis Feuillade's silent serial Les Vampires" but this summary does not mention the real star of the film - Hong Kong kung-fu actress Maggie Cheung, playing herself. She is perfect as the exotic object, the ephemeral other, the object of desire who finds herself at the centre of the film's obsessive and sexually driven visual vortex.

In the privacy of her hotel room, Maggie Cheung zips herself into a full-body black latex catsuit which is going to be her vampire costume on the film set the next day. Maybe she is just getting into character, or maybe she shares something of the director's fascination with nocturnal life... predatory sexuality... visual fixation... the bound female form... anyway, the film really comes to life as she creeps through the hotel, her haunting feline eyes piercing through the spooky-sexy costume... the suspense here is that she is enacting her own vampire fantasy, of her own accord, not under the director's gaze. Maggie Cheung, all alone, on the roof, in the rain, exploring her own version of a male fantasy sequence. This is an unforgettable moment in art-house cinema.

The film really does justice to its themes, with the male characters degenerating from visionaries into voyeurs, and the female characters showing real depth in their willingness to accommodate the male gaze without losing their savvy post-fem powers. If you are a predictable guy like me, you will love the French-Asian grrrl power, which gives the film a pulse.

The theme of visual obsession is presented very well: the director is shouting, the cameras are rolling, and Maggie Cheung, in her catsuit, is ready to suck blood. In these moments she is bound but free, powerless but in control, objectified but liberated. I suppose this makes the film contentious and provocative, but I thought the message was very clear.

Without spoiling the end of the film: the last five minutes of Irma Vep is totally unique. You will never see another film which ends like this one. I can only describe it as a profoundly futile gesture, an act of great passion and impotence, and a brilliant moment in Lettrist art. It is Rene Vidal's last stand, a terrible but beautiful moment caught on celluloid: the work of a madman? a savant? a genius? you can decide, but I am sure you will agree that Irma Vep does a lot more than just scratch the surface of modern film art.

If you like Irma Vep, check out Shadow Of The Vampire as well.


21 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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