we saw Irma Vep, the sublime meta series with Alicia Vikander

After an exceptional year 2021 in July, Cannes is back in May for its 2022 edition and its rich selection of around a hundred more or less expected films. After its zombie opening with Cut!, the festival is therefore in full swing and unveils a little more of its gems (or not) every day. It’s time for us to give you our hot opinion on the first three episodes ofIrma Vepa series for a change, film remake Irma Vep by Olivier Assayas by Olivier Assayas and led by Alicia Vikander.

What is it about ? Mira is an American movie star, but she’s tired of starring in not very interesting superhero blockbusters and especially needs a change of scenery after her recent breakup. She therefore decides to go to France to play Irma Vep in a remake of a 1916 silent soap opera directed by Louis Feuillade, The vampires.

How was it ? Olivier Assayas had left the Croisette in 2016 with the prize for directing for his super personal shopper (in any case for the author of these lines, the film greatly dividing the editorial staff of EL). Since then he had disappointed with the boring Double lives and above all the huge failure Cuban Network (both passed through Venice). Fortunately, his return to Cannes with Irma Vepthe serial remake of his own eponymous film made in 1996, is a little candy, funny, moving and meta.

The meeting that will change everything?

Well, let’s be clear on one point: the series is visually sublime. This is in no way surprising with HBO in production (and also A24), but it inevitably gives a cachet to each setting crossed by the characters. A key element, especially in a series that largely tells the very production of a series, with which Olivier Assayas plays admirably at the level of his staging thanks to a skilful management of spaces.

He also skilfully plays with this mise en abyme by using different formats, juggling between that of the series we are watching, the series that the characters are filming and the original Feuillade serial (with sublime restored sequences) to better to merge the dimensions. Result a narrative full of delicacy, but never soft, elegant, but never stuckand above all able to carry the trajectory of its heroine at all times.

Irma Vep : Fotograf Adria Arjona, Alicia VikanderAn intense dominant-dominated game

Because if the series is extremely dense, enjoying many small sparkling and twisting sub-plots between its many pleasing snubs to the Hollywood system (superheroes again and again, insurance), its reflections on the world of cinema and the arcs of numerous secondary characters (the drug-addicted comedian played by Lars Eidinger, a not always manageable Vincent Lacoste, Jeanne Balibar and Devon Ross with ambiguous feelings), the series never forgets to keep in sight the reconstruction of Mira, aka Alicia Vikander, whom we are happy to finally find in an exciting role.

It is in the double reading of the heroine that the series is the most touching in these first three episodes, Mira doing more in one with her character to be reborn better. Gradually, Mira becomes Irma (her name in anagram was of course heralding) and merges almost physically with the con artist she embodies, giving scenes a marvelous poetry. We obviously think of this first test of the costume and its cat-paced walk down the stairs, but above all of that of the light tests on her make-up.

Irma Vep: photo, Alicia VikanderAlicia Vikander, finally back to her best

While she has just experienced a painful moment in the previous scene, the editing immediately transports us to this sequence where her eyes are made up with a black pencil that almost seems to have flowed, as if she had just cried as a result of the scene. previous. In a simple transition, the heroine’s sadness seems to blend into her character’s facegiving even more power to their joining into a single entity.

An amalgamation of the heroine that seems to touch one of the show’s other characters in an even more intriguing and moving meta flip: series-within-series director Vincent Macaigne ultimately appears to be the embodiment of Assayas himself. A revelation that makes the director’s approach all the more personal and intimate, fully opening up to viewers about his regrets, past traumas and ambitions as filmmakers. More than enough to make us want to watch the second half very quickly.

And when is it coming out? The broadcast will begin on June 7 on OCS in France.

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