Irma Vep is a low-budget independent French movie with an Asian star about... shooting a low-budget independent French movie with an Asian star.The story is about a contemporary attempt by a washed-out French director (played by former Nouvelle Vague actor Jean-Pierre Leaud) to shoot a remake of Les Vampires, a 1915 silent film serial by Louis Feuillade, depicting the adventures of a gang of thieves led by a Femme Fatale who went by the name of Irma Vep (anagram of Vampire). The movie is being made on a shoestring, the crew are a squabbling bunch and nothing goes right. In the middle of it all arrives the Asian star chosen for the lead role, Maggie Cheung—played by Maggie Cheung.Maggie doesn't speak French and is quite surprised by the lack of organization, in stark contrast with the no-nonsense professionalism she's accustomed to from the Hong Kong movie scene. She nonetheless tries her best to follow the director's obscure instructions, and things begin to fall into place. Her part requires her to dress up in a fetish rubber bodysuit with built-in corset, which she develops a certain fascination for, and at one point puts it on to become a real-life cat burglar for a night.However, just as it seemed that the movie could be finished in spite of everything, the director has a nervous breakdown and is replaced by another one, whose first decision is to remove Maggie Cheung from the cast. All that's left of the first director's work is a surrealistic montage of scratched rushes.A real-life development that took place during the shooting of Irma Vep is that its director Olivier Assayas and Maggie Cheung started dating, and got married soon afterwards. They later got divorced but have on another occasion worked together again, on Clean.
Contains examples of: