A modern reinterpretation of his film of the same name, Irma Vep is Olivier Assayas’ first series. For this HBO production, the French director called on Alicia Vikander and an exceptional French cast for an explosive and successful result.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ?
Mira is a movie star disenchanted with both her career and her recent breakup. She arrives in France to play Irma Vep in a remake of the French silent film classic, “Les Vampires”. As filming progresses, Mira realizes that the boundaries between herself and the character she plays begin to blur and coalesce.
Irma Vep is broadcast from June 7 in US + 24 on OCS at the rate of one episode per week. Episodes seen: 3/8.
WHO IS IT WITH?
With this HBO and A24 mini-series, Olivier Assayas adapts his own film Irma Vep from 1996. The successors of Maggie Cheung and Jean-Pierre Leaud are Alicia Vikander (Tomb Raider, Ex Machina) and Vincent Macaigne (Dog, Night Doctor). The American actress does not play her own role but that of Mira, a Hollywood star who came to Paris to play in a French production directed by René Vidal (Vincent Macaigne).
In this series produced by Olivier Assayas, Alicia Vikander but also Sam Levinson (Euphoria), among others, a prestigious French and international cast revolves around the two main actors. We thus find Vincent Lacoste, Nora Hamzawi, Jeanne Balibar, Hippolyte Girardot, Antoine Reinartz, Adria Arjona (6 Underground, Morbius), Byron Bowers (Concrete Cowboy), Tom Sturridge (Good Morning England, Sandman) but also the model Devon Ross.
WELL WORTH A LOOK ?
We can say that she was treated to a preview presentation with great fanfare in the cradle of the celebration of cinema, an environment that she scratches with humor and finesse. After Twin Peaks or Top of the Lake, the Cannes Film Festival welcomed Irma Vep, signed Olivier Assayas. The French director transposes his feature film from the 1990s and offers a polished and successful rereading, now broadcast on OCS.
The eponymous mini-series thus takes up the story of an international actress who sets her bags in France for the filming of a remake of the silent classic “Les Vampires”. To replace Maggie Cheung and Jean-Pierre Leaud in the main roles, Olivier Assayas has called on Alicia Vikander and Vincent Macaignewho form an explosive duo in this mix of crime thriller and dramatic comedy.
Placing the cursor even further than in the original film, Olivier Assayas dissects the world of cinema and delivers a meta and personal speech on his vision of the industry with explosive humor and a fascinating dive into these wacky behind the scenes that will bring back good memories. fans of Ten Percent.
The series does not hesitate to press where it hurts by (self) mocking certain recurring thoughts in the industry, such as the idea that “series are 8-hour films”, while discussing the ills that affect members. of this industry between depression, mental health, social pressure and financial problems, but also by noting the (r)evolutions such as the new profession of intimacy coordinator and the questioning of power relations.
life imitates art
In addition to its relevant and modern subject, Irma Vep is also worth for its very worked aesthetics – and this from the fabulous credits in animation -, and its superposition of sequences of real life, moments of filming and scenes, restored, of “Vampires” by Louis Feuillade. In Olivier Assayas’ staging, everything is reflection – and reflection – everything is mirror and each sequence, oscillating between dream and reality, responds as Mira questions herself.
In the role of Mira, the actress disillusioned by her career and her recent breakup with her former assistant, Alicia Vikander surprises and reveals herself to be incandescent, destabilizing and above all very funny in a role that allows her to reveal other facets of her acting. The rest of the cast, between Vincent Macaigne, Vincent Lacoste, Nora Hamzawi and Jeanne Balibar – but also international faces, is just as tasty and biting.
If Irma Vep is almost a fantasized but believable documentary of the fiction industry, it is also a societal tale where the heroine deconstructs herself as much as the environment to which she belongs, for better and for worse. She, who is used to blockbusters, which vampirizes the cinema market, can finally prove her worth in an author project that is close to her heart.
And despite hardship and heartbreak, Mira works hard and with sincerity in a world where it’s better to bare your teeth than show even a shred of vulnerability. And yet it is this sensitivity that will hook us to Mira and make us want to follow her journey in this life-size mise en abyme as hilarious as it is touching.
So where does fiction end and reality begin? Questions about a blurred border that may not find answers as the creator and his troupe of actors marry with ease the different plots of the series, having fun with and surely exorcising neuroses. Be that as it may, Olivier Assayas has won his bet to offer us a refreshing and sharp little gem of contemporary television, which stands out from a serial year that is quite lukewarm for the moment.