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Modern noir meets high opera in the French suspense flick Diva. Delivery boy Jules has an opera obsession. He spends his small disposable income on sophisticated sound equipment and manages to bootleg a live performance of his favorite diva, Cynthia Hawkins (played by real-life opera singer Wilhelmina Wiggins Fernandez). But Jules is spotted making the recording by shady investors who want the tape. As if that weren't enough, a second cassette, filled with enough evidence to topple an international drug and prostitution ring, makes its way into Jules's mailbag. Writer-director Jean-Jacques Beineix does a terrific job of adapting Delacorta's pulpy novel for the screen, keeping all the excitement while adding a layer of depth. A movie to make even a dedicated opera hater appreciate a perfectly sung aria, Diva has enormous loft apartments, thugs galore, gorgeous visuals, and a corker of a chase scene. Watch it--and watch your back. --Ali Davis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The not-so-good-news first: while superior to the earlier DVD release (which I had never seen, but heard about) the film suffers a little from some muddy sound, and at the worst times: during the operatic performances. Yet, the chase scenes have incredibly crisp sound. But I can't let that spoil the fact that the movie has held up incredibly well after 20+ years. While the fashions are of a by-gone era, everything else holds up perfectly. The plot, the direction, the performances are all as engaging as anything that's come out in recent years. Younger viewers may feel that this is a little old-fashioned, but I doubt it. This is a great film that has a little bit of everything: drama, love, comedy--and the strangest villains in cinema history! Give DIVA a chance.
Diva is a film that is different from the main stream. It is in reality simply a mystery thriller with a well-written comic plot. From that point of view it can not be said to be an intellectual film it is very much a main stream production. However whilst not an intellectual film it is a intelligent film.
The plot is multi dimensional. A courier secretly tapes the performance of a reclusive opera star. The opera star has never allowed her work to be copied so that the tape is immensely valuable. At the same time a dying woman puts into the couriers bag a tape which holds the clue to a major corruption scandal. The film is about the pursuit of the courier by two lots of villains, one chasing the recording the others chasing the tape.
Introduced into the mix is the character of a detective figure who is unlike the conventional action hero as one can be. A character who is obsessed with a Zen like philosophy, who lives in a huge bar apartment and does incredibly complex jigsaw puzzles and who makes strange speeches on the art of buttering the baguette.
Rather than the film being powered by a simple plot each scene is carefully crafted both to develop the narrative of the film and also to illustrate the feel of the film and to define the characters. The opening scene is a glorious aria from the rather obscure opera La Wally.Read more ›
The film is based loosely on a novel by Delacorta, who wrote a series of books centering on the adventures of Serge and Alba, the former being an exceptionally vague sort of crime solver, and the latter a beautiful and exceptionally young female companion. The movie pushes the two lead characters of the novel and makes them secondary to the plot, and takes the blonde young girl and makes her Asian. Beineix is less concerned with their story than with that of Jules, a young man who has made a surreptitious, high quality recording of a African American opera singer who refuses to be recorded for mass distribution. The plot revolves around his accidentally and unknowingly becoming involved (a la Hitchcock) with criminals, and being simultaneously being chased by them and by others who want his recording.
When DIVA came out, it seemed to be heralding the arrival of a major new directorial talent in Jean-Jacques Beineix. He followed DIVA with the beautiful to look at but overall quite disappointing THE MOON IN THE GUTTER. His subsequent output has also failed to fulfill the promise that DIVA seemed to announce. Be this as it may, it hardly undermines the brilliance of his debut effort. It remains one of the great thrillers of the past two decades, and as exciting today as ever.
US filmmaking, and 'Blow Up' defined 1960s hipness, 'Diva'
defined a certain kind of 1980s European cinema.
That doesn't mean it's great, just seminal. It marked a turning away
from deep psychology, philosophy, politics or even plot, and marked an
emphasis on style, energy, colors, etc. The movie is about being a cool
movie, with cool sets, cool shots, a cool car chase, etc. The plot is
just enough to hold it all together.
All that said, it is great to look at, the chase is fun, and the film
is fun too, in an empty calorie, music video sort of way. It's
frustrating. If the acting was a little better (the leads range from
pretty good to very awkward) and the story had a little more heart and
brains, it could have kept it's grand style, and been a great film, not
just an entertaining, great looking film.
The new Meridian version is disappointingly weak. I actually
prefer my old Anchor Bay copy (I believe the same version
is the hgv edition in Canada), which was itself far from
perfect, but seems to be stronger both visually and aurally.
Read the in depth analysis on DVD Beaver comparing the
Meridian, the Anchor Bay and the Fox Lorber and you'll
get some interesting details on the differences.
I have also heard (but not yet personally seen) that
the 2004 region 2 WB and similar 2007 Region 2 Optimum
release may actually be the best version around, and currently
sells pretty cheap on Amazon UK, so if you have
a region free player, you might want to check that out.
Most recent customer reviews
This Fox Lorber release has the worse sound ever. I felt like there were pillows in front of my TV speakers.Published 11 days ago by R. Santerre
I was not able to use it. It was only useful for Europeans I was robbedPublished 13 months ago by Janine Poley
This is a great French movie to watch. I find this movie most fun to watch. Hope there might be a blu-ray version.Published on Jan. 23 2014 by Kevin Barton
One of the best movies from the early 80's. This movie is filled with visual beauty and vivid colors. Read more
I first viewed this movie in the mid-late eighties as a impressionable, idealistic, young man. It was my first real foray into "foreign" film. Read morePublished on Sept. 13 2005
Diva is poetically visual as it displays a cinematically stunning experience, which renders one speechless with its sublime cinematography. Read morePublished on June 4 2004 by Swederunner
Diva is very intriguing with it's two parallel plots. The first time I saw this movie I was a bit confused and to this day I wouldn't know how to properly categorize it. Read morePublished on May 1 2004 by K. Wirsch
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