Irma Vep is a 1996 French film directed by Olivier Assayas and starring Maggie Cheung (playing herself) in a narrative about the tragedies that occur when a middle-aged French cinema director (played by Jean-Pierre Léaud) attempts to replicate Louis Feuillade’s iconic silent film serial Les Vampires. It’s also a commentary on the state of the French film business, as it’s told mostly from the perspective of a foreigner (Cheung).
What could be the plot of Irma Vep?
Maggie Cheung is cast as Irma Vep (an anagram for vampire), a thief who spends the whole of the film dressed in a tight, black latex rubber catsuit defending her director René Vidal’s strange selections to hostile crew members and journalists.
The plot mirrors the film’s director’s bewilderment as the film proceeds. Maggie Cheung’s character is viewed as an exotic sex object clad in a latex catsuit by numerous characters, including the director and Cheung’s costume designer Zoe (Nathalie Richard).
Maggie sees René, who had earlier stormed out after watching the dailies, after a dinner with the other crew members, in the aftermath of an apparent violent episode. René acknowledges that the picture was mostly motivated by his wish to see her in it.
Maggie confesses that she comprehends his point of view. Maggie, seemingly possessed by her character, dons the catsuit later that evening and steals valuables from another hotel room. The next day, Zoe picks up Maggie from her hotel room, weary.
René fails to show up, so the crew tries to film without him. René’s fellow director José Mirano contacts Maggie’s stunt double Laure at the end of the day to inform her that René has suffered a nervous breakdown and that he has been tasked with finishing the film.
However, he is perplexed as to why René cast a Chinese actress in the role of a French underground lady and declares his intention to replace her with Laure. Maggie declines Zoe’s invitation to attend a rave with her. Maggie is about to leave for America to work on another picture with Ridley Scott, while Mirano and the other team members examine René’s surrealistic tangle of rushes.
- Maggie Cheung in the role of herself; Jean-Pierre Léaud in the role of René Vidal; Nathalie Richard in the role of Zoé
- Journalist Antoine Basler
- Laure is played by Nathalie Boutefeu.
- Desormeaux (Alex Descas)
- Maté Dominique Faysse
- L’américaine, Arsinée Khanjian
Bernard Nissile in the role of Markus • Moreno and Ferdinand is played by Olivier Torres.
- Mireille (Bulle Ogier)
Irma Vep, an HBO and A24 coproduction, will premiere on Monday, June 6 at 9/8c. It was created, written, and directed by Assayas. It will also be available to watch on HBO Max and will premiere as an Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022