Director: Olivier Assayas

96 mins, France, 1996, Subtitled, Digital

Hong Kong action-movie star Maggie Cheung, as a version of herself, is invited to play Irma Vep in a remake of Les Vampires, Louis Feuillade’s classic crime serial (1915-16). Unstable New Wave director Vidal (Jean-Pierre Léaud) sees Cheung as the only actress capable of playing the role, attempting to mould a modern Catwoman. Cheung, without a word of French, feels lonely in Paris, trying to deal with daily shooting and chaotic crew. A tribute to silent cinema, 25 years on we see this as Assayas’s masterpiece – a cool dreamy, poetic, yet sharply satirical movie about French film culture. Fans of the original will adore Cheung as much as the iconic Musidora! Assayas playfully blurs the lines between Cheung and Irma Vep, while music by Sonic Youth charges underlying desires, tensions and chaos. MPR

Screening as part of the IFI French Film Festival, November 17 – 28.

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