12/08/2022

Zephyrus Daily

Daily News Movies and TV series

Olivier Assayas Are Having a Blast in HBO’s Irma Vep

There’s such a laidback, playful energy in HBO’s new dramedy “Irma Vep” that it’s contagious, the kind of calming escape that we really need in Summer 2022. It’s just fun to hang out in a world with such smart, interesting characters, and to simply ride the waves of creativity under the guidance of a masterful director like Olivier Assayas. A phenomenal director of actresses—just look at Juliette Binoche’s work in “Clouds of Sils Maria” or Kristen Stewart’s in “Personal Shopper” for examples—he draws one of the career-best turns out of Alicia Vikander as an actress trying to figure out her personal and professional lives while filming a television show in France. Adapting his own 1996 film (which starred Maggie Cheung) a quarter century later, Assayas has found a way to breathe life into the themes of the original by expanding on its universe. The TV series doesn’t feel like a remake as much as an updated companion to the original from a filmmaker who has spent the last 25 years since its release honing his craft and observing the very process that he loves so much with all of its personality conflicts, on-set catastrophes, and creative pitfalls. This is a smart, twisting look behind-the-scenes, and a reminder that Assayas is one of the best alive today in the filmmaking business, and apparently TV too.

There’s such a laidback, playful energy in HBO’s new dramedy “Irma Vep” that it’s contagious, the kind of calming escape that we really need in Summer 2022. It’s just fun to hang out in a world with such smart, interesting characters, and to simply ride the waves of creativity under the guidance of a masterful director like Olivier Assayas. A phenomenal director of actresses—just look at Juliette Binoche’s work in “Clouds of Sils Maria” or Kristen Stewart’s in “Personal Shopper” for examples—he draws one of the career-best turns out of Alicia Vikander as an actress trying to figure out her personal and professional lives while filming a television show in France. Adapting his own 1996 film (which starred Maggie Cheung) a quarter century later, Assayas has found a way to breathe life into the themes of the original by expanding on its universe. The TV series doesn’t feel like a remake as much as an updated companion to the original from a filmmaker who has spent the last 25 years since its release honing his craft and observing the very process that he loves so much with all of its personality conflicts, on-set catastrophes, and creative pitfalls. This is a smart, twisting look behind-the-scenes, and a reminder that Assayas is one of the best alive today in the filmmaking business, and apparently TV too.

The incredibly anxious Vidal struggles from the beginning of the project, unable to get it insured when he admits to taking anti-depressants. He’s constantly fighting against his cast and crew, but mostly seems stricken by insecurity, heightened by the fact that the original film he made led to a doomed relationship which he seems to not yet be over. He struggles to connect to Mira and is often bossed around by the amazing Gottfried (Assayas regular Lars Eidinger), an actor introduced stumbling off the train and telling an assistant director about his recent addiction to crack. There’s a quiet celebrity and gender commentary in “Irma Vep” in that it seems like actors like Gottfried can get away with literally anything while Mira has to watch her every move and Rene is doubted by everyone around him.