Olivier Assayas returns to dig deeper — Original Cin
She arrives in Paris, accompanied by her chic cinephile assistant, Regina (model Devon Ross) to meet the neurotic French director, René Vidal (Vincent Macaigne). In this version, the director is clearly a kind of replacement for Assayas himself, the filmmaker who made a film called Irma Vep a few years ago, with a Chinese actress named Jade Lee, and is now trying to do an eight-episode series with the same title.
Mira sees this as a chance to embody a powerful female character and has done her research on the charismatic original Irma Vep, the actress, Misadora, the pioneering French actress and filmmaker. René is more interested in her as a physical presence.
The femme fatale movie “vamp” he tells her is from “vampire” (technically, though the source is Theda Bara’s 1915 feature film, there was a fool). The opening conversation with Mira isn’t promising: “I don’t care about movies,” he tells her. “I used to do that, but not anymore. Maybe it will come back. »
Mira tells her agent that she feels unsettled. Something strange happens when Mira puts on the black jumpsuit. Almost immediately, Mira ascends a spiral staircase in a scene reminiscent of an exhilarating moment from Assayas’ 1996 film starring Cheung.
To be honest though, Irma Vep initially feels a bit off the hook, jam-packed with character introductions and exposition groups and inside showbiz references that seem a bit mundane. There have been so many arch series, behind the scenes – the French series Call my agent and this is a UK copy, ten percentHBO barry and Calm your enthusiasm – whose genres we almost know by heart: the complacent director, the petty rivalries between actors, the heartaches, the rigorous references to recent scandals (eg Harvey Weinstein).
There are the characters with substance abuse issues, the cheesy talk of zombie movies as a consumer metaphor, the miserly agent calls (Portlandiaby Carrie Brownstein), the members of the film crew who are the dictators of their little kingdoms (Jeanne Balibar as a costume designer) and the financier whose real objective is to sign a cosmetic contract with the star.
There are two unconvincing relationship subplots: Mira discovers that her ex-lover and assistant, Laurie (Adria Arjona) is in town with her new successful director husband and flaunts her new status. In a parallel, post-#MeToo breakup storyline, main man Edmond (Vincent Lacoste) insists on a sex scene with his ex, Séverine (Sigrid Bouaziz), despite his real-life restraining order.
I’ve seen four of the show’s eight episodes, enough to know that what’s apparently happening here isn’t really what’s happening. Assayas takes something familiar to unfamiliar through constant and fluid transformations.