This article studies the interactions between the “foreign” female star body and the body of nation and national film historiography through the lens of the Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung and her two crossover films, Centre Stage and Irma Vep. The premise of my argument is that the combination of the female star body’s overdeterminedness with malleability makes it a privileged site for constructing, deconstructing, and reconstructing the nation-oriented cinema and the correlated identity.
My major concern is how Cheung’s distinctly foreign presence in both films collaborates with the deconstructionist agenda to produce a new conception of the national film historiography. My analysis of Cheung’s “foreign” presence and “body too much” demonstrates that “national cinema” must be redefined from a foreignizing perspective. By relating star theory and the theory of performativity to the postcolonial context, I point toward strategies of recharting the national or regional identity that are sensitive to gender and postcolonial politics.