At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
At Alliance Française on Friday, December 19: Diva (1981) by Jean-Jacques Beineix – 117 mins – France, Action/ Drama/ Mystery/ Romance/ Thriller/ Music. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 80 out of 100.
With Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez, Frédéric Andréi, Richard Bohringer, Thuy An Luu.
Jules is a postman who’s mad about Opera. His is crazy about Cynthia Hawkins, a Diva who refuses to have any album of her own; so he tries to record her voice illegally but he is in trouble with pirate disc dealers…
– Alliance description
Variety: Diva is an extraordinary thriller and first film from Jean-Jacques Beineix, complex, stylish, and fast-moving.
The story [from the novel by Delacorta] involves a young mail courier (Frederic Andrei) with a passion for opera. His idol, Cynthia Hawkins (Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez), has made a career of avoiding the recording studio but the industrious young man manages to covertly make a high-quality tape of her Paris performance. At the same time, a prostitute hides a cassette recording she's made in his delivery motorcycle putting the finger on a drug kingpin before she's killed.
His only ally is a mysterious, shadowy character, Gorodish (Richard Bohringer), who lives with a Vietnamese nymphet (Thuy An Luu). Character has been popularized in a series of French novels and provides an element of fun to the picture, popping up to help the hero throughout the story.
The director dots the tale with bizarre types who continually cross each other's paths and wind up doing more harm to each other than to the young postman. The novel touches, bizarre chases and plot twists, breathtaking camerawork by Philippe Rousselot and tension-filled editing, make Diva a superior piece of entertainment.
Lost at Sea: In 1981, Beineix's Diva was a forerunner of the Cinema du Look movement that would come to hold a prominent role in the French films of the following decade. Wikipedia defines the movement as one that "referred to films that had a slick visual style and a focus on young, alienated characters that were said to represent the marginalized youth of Francois Mitterrand’s France." Common themes within the genre included alienation and doomed love, with a focus on the conflicted state of the country's youth and the frequent use of the Paris Metro. Beineix's wonderful film incorporates all of these aspects and more, showcasing a director truly fascinated by the possibilities of filmmaking and the tools of color, music, sound, and mise-en-scene. Diva is clearly a thriller, but one with very little action; the first car chase, minor as it is, doesn't occur until well past the film's halfway mark.
At Alliance Française on Friday, December 26: No film shown. Holiday!
At Alliance Française on Friday, January 2: No film shown. Holiday!