It’s a mark of changing times that Assayas—a one-time editor of Cahiers du Cinéma, and then a director himself-—works in an age when the screening of his films outside France depends largely on film festivals and art museums. Irma Vep was released in America—with little response.
Assayas has his own world: that of young people, often Parisians, troubled about virtually eventhing in their lives—it is like Paris Nous Appartient for a later time when the huge threat may have dissipated, but only after pioneering the way for smaller, more intimate dreads.
Une Nouvelle Vie is about half-sisters who only meet at the age of twenty. And Assayas is especially acute at showing us young people whose elders are in the same lost condition. In Paris at Dawn. Jean-Pierre Léaud is living with the dangerously young Judith Godreche, until his mixed-up son arrives and goes off with her.
Assayas benefits from the camerawork of Denis Lenoir, and he is adept at making noir situations seem everyday. He is already a master at overlap, betrayal, and stray coincidence, and he seems to be improving as time passes. Moreover, Irma Vep gave a welcome sign of humor in its awareness of the many poseurs and paranoids one meets in film production.