Maggie Cheung in "Irma Vep" and "CLEAN"


Cleanis the latest from Olivier Assayas, collaborated again with Maggie Cheung since the last movie, Irma Vep. Maggie Cheung received the best actress award at Cannes Film Festival this year. Also, Nick Nolte supports this movie with a bold presence and a natural performance.

In the last movie Irma Vep, Cheung is playing the role of a "celebrated actress" shooting a movie in the movie. From the beginning, the virtuality of shooting a movie with actors/actresses and a fictious screenplay is further complicated by filming that process again from its outside--this clarifies the point that "the presence of an actress, Maggie Cheung" is actually not a real figure and a person, but an iconic illusion created by the need of cultures. Cheung is supposed to be the top figure as an actress in Hong Kong and Asia, although the virtual movie shooting scene in Europe dealt with her as an unknown actress, (even if that setup is not realistic) which makes us realize how virtual and illusionistic the meaning of "icon" or "celebrity" is, and how such image is produced systematically for the specific need.


At the beginning of Irma Vep, Cheung is reduced to the role of an unkown actress rather than a "Hong Kong Star." (Olivier abd Cheung were true partners at the movie shooting, later they got married--and separated) However, as the movie set off, the division between the unknown actress performing Irma Vep and the character Irma Vep in the movie gradually begins to loose its edge. It seems that the whole setup of this movie outlined with the notion of virtuality represents the idea of how unclear and vague the line between the existence of a person and his/her acceptance by the surrounding world, by illustrating the process of an illusionistic "image of an actress" becoming someone other than herself.

Also in CLEAN, the role of Maggie Cheun is setup as a wife of a rock star, and she herself is the host of MTV--iconic figure in a society. But the reality is that they can not get away from decadant daily life with drug and alcohol, and they always run into quarrel with each other. Outside of the iconic figure image, the dissipated life does not allow to accept the facts of daily life--even for their own child.

Gradually, things begin to fall off from their hands. Once the celebrity icon that they are stucking is wiped away, the remain is the fact of being a drug addict--and her own child. By loosing the masked face, she finally realizes and begins to face the actuality of the life--her child--the movie now illustrates the real face of a woman for the first time.

In her interview, Cheung said that she did not "act" in this movie. She said that she became the person in the role, which allowed to add a different aspect of personality to herself--and she tried to present it as a true, real figure. Nick Nolte also told the same, and that might tell this movie actually captured those real figures and people who resides in the frame of filming a movie. The real world inside of a film space--when it crisscross with the reality of the audience, a film space reveals the world to us beyond the illusion.
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