“Les Vampires” told an intricate crime thriller story about a gang of underground criminals who terrorized Paris while being investigated by – and constantly evading – authorities. Among these criminals was the evil, latex-clad Irma Vep, played by the French actress Musidora in one of silent cinema‘s most iconic performances. Olivier Assayas’ “Irma Vep”, meanwhile, put a lot of meta, hard to sum up spin on the story where an outside actor’s adaptation to set of a French crime thriller soon became a criminal thriller story as the “Vampires” remake production fell apart, its plot penetrated into real life and vice versa.
At the appearance of it, HBO’s “Irma Vep” follows a similar plotline. According to Deadline, the show is “set against the backdrop of a lurid crime thriller” and follows “an American movie star disillusioned by her career and a recent breakdown” arriving in France to play Irma Vep in a remake of “Les Vampires”, “like Maggie Cheung in the 1996 film. Then “Mira struggles as the difference between herself and the character she plays begins to blur and merge.”
The original film was celebrated in part for its perfect, hallucinatory use of a meager 97-minute runtime, making Assayas’ decision to transform it into a longer-lasting, more plot-driven medium like television particularly exciting. Whatever he has in store, we can expect him to once again cast a glare at the modern film industry; in Assayas’ own words, “This is a comedy that will try to capture the spirit of the times in the same way that the original ‘Irma Vep’ did in a completely different world, a completely different era that right now feels light years away.”