Irma Vep (France 1997)

Rating: **
Cast: Maggie Cheung

Here's an oddity: a lame French art film that makes fun of lame French art films. An eccentric French director decides to remake a classic silent vampire film called "Irma Vep." For the pivotal role of Irma Vep he casts Hong Kong diva Maggie Cheung (as herself) based on her wonderful performance in Johnny To's "The Heroic Trio" (1993). Bizarre, but interesting. The entire film is shot in documentary style and follows Maggie's experiences while working on the film; her awkwardness with the language and unfamiliar surroundings, cultural differences on and off of the set, French prejudice against Asians, difficulty finding the motivation of her character, and dealing with a production that completely falls apart at the end. It's very French, and really long-winded and boring. The entire direction revolves around conversations with Maggie, and the result is just an overly talky "day in the life" character study. Fortunately, the immensely charming Maggie Cheung is wonderful to watch (and even dons a rubber cat suit), so not all is lost. The film ends up with her leaving France before the initial screening of the film in order to meet with Ridley Scott in New York. How strange.