Famous French author Oliver Assayas’ new series for HBO, a meta-narrative of his 1996 film, Irma Vep, has been such a hit with critics that it has already amassed an impressive 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes. 2022 version of Assayas Irma Vep retains the self-referential stylistic attributes of its original film, but implements a contemporary twist on the story, casting Alicia Vikander in the lead role.
Assayas has had a varied and intriguing career with his Michael Haneke-esque ghost story personal buyer, starring Kristen Stewart, dividing audiences and critical opinion in her 2016 Cannes Film Festival debut. Her films are polarizing works of art but nonetheless catapulted Assayas to the upper echelons of film critical discourse.
ten Demon Lovers (2002) – 53%
The neo-noir of 2002 demon lover wasn’t particularly well received by critics, but judging by Assayas’ later work, the film acts as something of a stylistic precursor to films such as Personal customer.
The multi-layered and convoluted plot mostly baffled critics and the film was accused of being a self-indulgent mess. Nonetheless, for hardcore Assayas fans, it’s worth exploring, if only to compare and contrast with his more critically acclaimed work.
9 Sentimental destinies (2000) – 62%
Throughout his career, much like film contemporaries such as Paul Thomas Anderson, Assayas was unafraid to bring his idiosyncratic brand of cinema to any period in history.
His dark period room, Sentimental destinies, explored themes of religion and love in 19th century Protestant France. Critics were divided regarding the film’s assessment, with some noting its ambition while others criticizing its laborious nature.
8 Late August, early September (1998) – 78%
Assayas is as well known for his subtle little films as he is for producing elegant auteur pieces. 1998 saw the release of what could be considered an underrated cinematic gem in End of August, beginning of September.
Critics generally viewed the film favorably, which was a nuanced exploration of inter-relationship love and friendship, and praised its use of metaphor and sharp dialogue. For the most part, the film is an understated and largely sublime entry into Assayas’ distinguished cinematic catalog.
seven Something in the Air (2012) – 81%
The political uprising of the late 1960s in France has been a topic recently explored in Wes Anderson’s book. The French Dispatchbut before a mustachioed Timothée Chalomet laughs at the weather, Assayas’ something in the air took a more direct look at the young revolutionaries of the time.
Critics praised the film for its sultry and dignified exploration of youth culture in France at the time and its cast’s central performances captivated critical opinion. something in the air is undeniably a remarkable and seminal work of politically controversial cinema.
6 Personal customer (2016) – 81%
When personal customer premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, it baffled, angered and fascinated critics in equal measure. The film even solicited a handful of boos and walkouts, such was its polarizing mystique.
The film stars Kristen Stewart, who becomes convinced of a spiritual connection to the deceased and, while mourning the death of her brother, finds herself embroiled in a murderous plot. For every glowing review of personal buyer, his critical detractors would also come out at the top of their voices. It’s a challenging but equally unforgettable watch.
5 Nonfiction (2019) – 87%
Assayas Witty Romantic Drama nonfiction, may not have been as memorable as personal customer but was certainly more universally accepted by critics who praised Assayas’ comedic touch.
As rich and textured romantic comedies progress, nonfiction was up there with some of the best of the decade, and the rich themes exploring globalization were a hard-hitting touchpoint that left critics wanting more. nonfiction is a fine example of Assayas’ ability to switch genres with ease while producing compelling work.
4 Clouds by Sils Maria (2014) – 91%
Before personal customer divided critical consensus, Assayas cast Kristen Stewart opposite Juliette Binoche in another mind-bending psychological drama, Clouds of Sils Maria.
Clouds of Sils Maria was adored by critics who saw Stewart’s performance as one of the film’s most enduring qualities. With roles like this, Stewart quickly convinced critics of his formidable acting ability.
3 Irma Vep (1996) – 93%
The original 1996 version of Assayas by Irma Vep was a satirical masterpiece that took a long and passionate look at the craft of filmmaking and is to this day considered a meta-classic by critics.
The film follows French filmmaker René Vidal, who hopes to reprise the popular gothic classic The vampires for the modern age. Assayas’ film is a post-modernist parable that won over critics, who loved its distinctive approach to self-rationalization.
2 Summer Hours (2008) – 94%
Summer hours is a joyous story of love and family loss that won Assayas critical acclaim when it was released in 2008. According to critics, Summer hours is a heartbreaking and bittersweet masterpiece of a movie.
Assayas has the uncanny ability in his films to capture the essence of French family dynamics with keen awareness and despite not pushing many cinematic boundaries in Summer hourscreates a sensual film that stands the test of time.
1 Cold Water (1994) – 100%
Assayas’ reprisals against Irma Vep isn’t his only work with a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes. The little known 1994 film Cold Water was an unequivocal hit with critics.
Cold water is a wild and visceral film that explores the relationship between two troubled teenagers in 1970s France, and is a tour de force of naturalistic direction and acting. Assayas’ film is definitely worth watching alongside HBO’s new hit series.
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