“Irma Vep”, the new HBO miniseries, harks back to the 1996 movie of the same name, and this is just the beginning of the fun at a meta level that makes you dizzy.
“Irma Vep” tells the story of Mira’s actress (Alicia Vikander, “The Girl from the Portrait”), who so far played mainly in blockbusters and tired of her image, chooses a slightly different production. He is flying to France to star in the 1915 remake of Louis Feuillade’s silent film “Les Vampires”. The story of the mysterious heroine of catsuit pulls her in completely. “Vampires” is a classic 9-part silent crime film, which is a challenge and an object of great fascination for the film crew, which is why Mira, after talking with the director, enters Irma’s world, forgetting her career so far, and escaping the memories of her recent breakup.
Irma Vep, or having fun with a movie in the series
All of this is going to be great, but it’s hard to get through the first episode. With 50 minutes of a chaotic story with a million threads, the series will reach a really persistent audience. It is definitely worth attention, but there are several problems. The next episodes (I saw four out of eight) expand both the universe of Irma and Mira.
First of all, the multitude of heroes, each of whom (with the artist’s exuberant ego) appropriates a large space and makes it difficult to decide who to follow. Or for Mira taking a bold step towards new career paths? Or maybe for René Vidal (French actor and director Vincent Macaigne), the director of the entire project, who definitely has a lot of emotional baggage and it is not known whether he should actually work on something that absorbs his attention. In addition, we also have a crowd of supporting characters with an original background. The entire film industry with its narcissistic outbursts is the collective hero of “Irma Vep”. It must be admitted that the director of the series is mocking himself and his earlier work.
The fact that the characters speak English and French equally in the show is an added challenge as they change the language they speak quite suddenly and the audience needs a reset to keep following the story. Mira also has a problem with it, that is, entering European show business with which she has not dealt before. Her agent (Carrie Brownstein, “Portlandia”) suggests abandoning the project due to its uncertain finances and recommends focusing on another production in line with the actress’s current position. However, the heroine has already caught the bug and she is drawn to this old, “vampire” character. He watches it on the screen of his phone and wants to penetrate the world of Irma (it is also worth adding that in the remake shot there are elements pole).
Irma Vep is a series that has numerous meta-levels
I mentioned that the series plays with the meta-level multiple times. Above all, Olivier Assayas, the screenwriter and director of the HBO series, is responsible for the 1996 film production of the same name (Maggie Cheung played the main role in the film). In turn, the heroes of the series, watching the famous silent film from 1915, the production of which we follow, watch themselves on the screen, and thanks to this, we follow the effect of their works, both in the form of shots on the set and ready-made scenes after editing. Are you following? It’s a challenge, but it proves the fun that the creators of the HBO series had and are trying to get us into.
The narcissistic and neurotic French, in a clash with the American team focused on the implementation of the task, is another well-resounding thread, but at times you may feel tired. A large film crew, try-ons, a set, it is all like a carousel spinning too much. “Irma Vep” will appeal to audiences who appreciate meta-masks and enjoy chasing easter eggs. It will also appeal to fans of cinema history, who can see an alternative version of how famous film works are dusted off, because “Les Vampires” is a cult film for heroes.
Irma Vep vs. Mira – great Alicia Vikander
Mira is looking for a heroine who would not only change her career, but also influence her as an actress. It seems that the figure of the vampire queen is what she has been looking for a long time. He loses himself in exercises on choreography and tries to penetrate the depths of his character, wanting to get to know her in a way that would to a large extent be able to unite with her. At these moments, the show tries to talk about the art of acting, but I’m not sure if this is what the audience was promised as a perverse comedy about working on a vampire show. However, it is worth looking at how great Alicia Vikander fares in the actors’ scenes. Her movements, costume, looks all fit her perfectly into Irma’s image.
“Irma Vep” tries to tell several stories at the same time, from the very first episode, which, as I mentioned above, may discourage the undecided audience, which would be a pity, because the further the better. It is also worth taking a look at the plot of the movie “Vampires”, because there is also a lot going on there. The collision of what the original looks like and how the work on the new version is going is both fun and fascinating. Make-up, costumes, maids and their secrets, sometimes tarnished film – it is impossible not to get involved in the story of the film production itself and the story it tells. The original “Vampires” tells the story of a series of attacks on Parisians, carried out by a criminal group called “Vampires”.
Irma Vep – is it worth watching the HBO miniseries?
All the time, however, I have the impression of a certain disorder. There are too many stories here that you have to keep chasing in order not to lose sight of anything. However, I am sure that “Irma Vep” will gain a faithful audience, and fans of formal experiments will return to this series several times. I myself want to see a re-screening and verify how the plot of the series confronts the film, 26 years older.
I warn you that if you do not like stereotypes about French mannerisms, then “Irma Vep” may tire you. The series does not shy away from a certain idea of how filmmakers see French creators and artists. The same applies to the American team of Mira, especially her agent is a classic image of a harpy who will do a lot for money and glamor. Alicia Vikander in the role of Mira and Irma is by far the brightest point of the entire production. Fans of the actress will be delighted.
Irma Vep – New episodes on Tuesdays on HBO Max