Vladimir, a romantic, Rimbaud-loving young Muscovite on the run from the Russian mafia, holes up in a squat in Paris. When he appears on a TV game show in which the host, Victor Lalumière, shamelessly cons him, Vladimir's gangland pursuers track him down and try to kill him. To save his life, he agrees to take part in a "soul-swapping" experiment devised by a nutty Russian scientist named Alexander. The transfer takes place in the rest room of a coffee shop. Vladmir finds himself in the body of his persecutor, Victor Lalumière, and vice-versa.
"My name is Milka Assaf. Milka is a Slavic name and the Assafs are an ancient Lebanese family, so my name is quite a destiny in itself. As someone who had a Russian grandmother, a Bulgarian mother and a Lebanese father, was schooled by Jesuits in Beirut, emigrated at the age of 19 and took French nationality, I am naturally drawn toward stories that interweave characters from different cultures in a baroque environment. L'Ombre des cèdres, a screenplay about the Lebanese tragedy, was my first attempt. Now, in Les Migrations de Vladimir, I have pushed this interweaving to its ultimate climax, where a person actually steps into the body of another. People often urge each other to 'put yourself in his shoes,' meaning to get a better understanding of somebody. I took the expression literally and made a comedy out of it. Les Migrations de Vladimir is a story about swapping souls, migrating between bodies, switching destinies. Two symbolic destinies: Victor Lalumière is a French game show host who will stop at nothing to become a media star, while Vladimir is a romantic young Russian layabout pursued by mobsters from his homeland, who is desperate to save his skin. Why did I make him a Russian? Because, apart from the fact that I know what it's like for a people to be flung into chaos, I've had the Slavic soul inside me since the day I was born." (Milka Assaf, Director)