Diva (NR)

Comedy 90 December 31, 1969
By Nathan Lee
In the spring of 1981, Jean-Jacques Beineix unveiled his debut film in Paris: a brash, snazzy thriller about the infatuation of a sullen young deliveryman (Frédéric Andréi) with a reclusive opera diva (Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez), the bootleg he makes at one of her performances, and the dizzy dilemmas that ensue. Diva contrived a new sensibility that came be known as “cinéma du look,” a Franglais label for the micromovement of superstylish, unabashedly romantic pictures made throughout the ’80s. “The reviews were horrible,” Beineix recalls in the press notes for the 25th-anniversary rerelease. Lingering in theaters a full year after its premiere, Diva gradually became a hometown hit; by the time it opened in New York, it was a phenomenon. Half a century later, a glut of über-groovy meta-thrillers has blunted the novelty, but Diva is still a kick. The breezy, harebrained plot spins out from a mixup over a pair of audio tapes: the opera bootleg made by Jules (Andrei), and the one he discovers in a side pocket of his scooter, stashed there by a prostitute before she was killed for its contents — testimony that implicates the police chief in a white-slavery ring. The chief dispatches a pair of ineffectual cops to investigate the dead hooker, a goofy thug duo tries to retrieve the tape, and Beineix keeps going, fearless and foolish, piling extravagance on extravagance.
José Alvarenga Jr. Lília Cabral, José Mayer, Reynaldo Gianecchini, Cauã Reymond, Alexandra Richter, Eduardo Lago, Paulo Gustavo Bastos, Antonio Pedro, Elias Gleizer, Vera Mancini Marcelo Saback


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