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Irma Vep
Irma Vep Irma Vep is a chic
  French film that sends up
  art-house pretensions
  with a vengeance. It stars
  Asian cinema superstar
  Maggie Cheung as herself
  and — in the film within a
  film
the title role...”

HAVING BEEN BROUGHT TO FRANCE to take the starring role of Irma Vep in an ill-advised remake of a silent classic Louis Feuillade's Les Vampires Maggie Cheung (2046, In The Mood For Love and epic martial arts films such as Hero) finds herself drawn into the diverse lives of the cast and crew a mixed bunch of actors and technicians, including the Director René Vidal (Jean-Pierre Léaud), a once big-shot film director who is slowly losing the plot.

Vidal is keen for Maggie to have the part of Irma Vep as he couldn't envisage a French actress in the part.

Costume designer Zoë (Nathalie Richard) befriends Maggie, but does she have ulterior motives? And with Vidal rapidly succumbing to a breakdown, will the film ever be completed? In an interview with a journalist, Maggie strongly supports Vidal, even though the journalist keeps praising John Woo.

Irma VepHowever, Maggie has become obsessed with the part she is playing in this tongue-in-cheek film — the black latex-clad Irma Vep (an anagram for 'vampire') — and has taken to prowling the hotel, acting like a cat burglar. In one memorable scene she finds herself on the rooftops in a rainstorm from where she deliberately drops a necklace she has stolen.

There are black-and-white scenes used to interesting effect and we get a fascinating insight into the often-twisted and eccentric world
of filmmaking. The acting is very casual; some of it reminiscent of a documentary. Whatever you think of this type of film, Irma Vep is described as "a genuine cult classic and a real treasure" and is certainly worth a look.

"Cinema is not magic. It's a technique and a science. A technique born of science and at the service of a will. The will of the workers to free themselves" — writing on the wall in Irma Vep.

Irma Vep makes its UK debut on DVD on 31 March (2008), courtesy of Second Sight, at an RRP of £19.99.

Special Features include Man Yuk — Portrait of Maggie Cheung; Interview with Olivier Assayas/Charles Tesson; Interview with Maggie Cheung/Nathalie Richard; Maggie Cheung Rushes; Trailer.

"Cheung is superb" — Empire

"A wonderful tribute to filmmaking" — Channel4.com

"Fine performances throughout" — Time Out