Sunday, November 4, 2007

Diva (French)

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Classic French Thriller Re-Released in Theaters for 25th Anniversary

When not making his daily deliveries around Paris on his moped, Jules (Frederic Andrei) fritters away his time fantasizing about Cynthia Hawkins (Wilhelminia Wiggins Fernandez), the stunning African-American opera singer who’s currently the toast of the town. In fact, the young postman has such a crush on the never-recorded soprano that not only does he secretly tape her latest recital, but he even has the temerity to sneak backstage afterwards to steal the gown in which she’d just performed.
Later, in a record store, the larcenous lad befriends Alba (Thuy Ann Lu), an attractive Vietnamese teenager almost caught shoplifting. The cashier forced her to open her artist’s portfolio which was filled with oversized naked pictures of herself hiding the albums she’d lifted. Kindred souls Alba and Jules hit it off and start hanging out, even though she likes pop music and he prefers classical.
But it isn’t long before the two find themselves up to their necks in a couple of messy scandals. First, quite by coincidence, a prostitute on the run from a couple of mobsters surreptitiously drops an incriminating audio cassette into Jules’ delivery bag right before she’s stabbed to death with an awl. It seems that she’d been the mistress of a high-ranking official involved with both the sex and drug trades. Besides those goons, Alba and Jules are also being trailed by Taiwanese goons who got wind of the pirated recording of Ms. Hawkins’ concert.
This convoluted state of affairs is the scenario which kickstarts Diva, a multi-layered mindbender directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix. First released in the States in 1982, the picture is back in theaters with the 25th anniversary edition featuring a new set of subtitles which presumably deliver a more faithful translation of the French dialogue.
Regardless, this endlessly-inventive crime caper arrives already blessed with an abundance of amusing twist and turns. And when you add in the edge-of-your-seat tension, the stirring soundtrack and unorthodox cinematography courtesy of crazy camera angles, it all adds up to a sumptuous cinematic classic among the very best movies ever made.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R
In French and English with subtitles.
Running time: 123 minutes
Studio: Rialto Pictures

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