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Film: Diva

"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
Jules, Diva

Diva is a 1981 film directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix, based on a novel by Delacorta.

The film's hero, Jules, is a postman. He is a fan of American opera diva Cynthia Hawkins, who has never allowed herself to be recorded. He sneaks a recorder into one of her performances and makes a high-quality bootleg tape, which becomes one of the two MacGuffins driving the plot as Taiwanese gangsters try to buy it for the purposes of releasing an unauthorized record. The other MacGuffin is a cassette tape of a confession by a soon-to-be-dead prostitute in which she implicates Saporta, a high-ranking police official, in an organized crime ring. Two different gangs are after him as they confuse one tape for the other. Meanwhile, Jules becomes friends with Gorodish, a middle-aged, bohemian man of mystery, and Alba, his companion. A memorable chase scene takes place in the Paris Metro. Jules meets Cynthia Hawkins, the object of his Loony Fandom and, after she gets over her initial shock and anger, she becomes attracted to him and romance ensues.


This film provides examples of:

  • Bald of Evil: Le Curé
  • Catch Phrase: "Je n'aime pas ... " ("I don't like ..."), Le Curé. Lampshaded when Zatopek says, "You don't like anything."
  • Chase Scene: Mobstacle Course turns into a Train Escape on the Paris Metro in what is probably the most memorable movie chase since The French Connection.
  • The Chessmaster: Gorodish is one of these as he plays the two gangs off against each other. Subverted because Gorodish is on the side of the hero.
  • Cool Car: Gorodish's Citroën Traction Avant 11. Times two.
  • Cool House: Gorodish's "country house" on the coast is a lighthouse.
    • His city house is a vast warehouse space - Alba rollerskates through it while he kicks back in a tub out in the middle of the floor, smoking a cigar.
    • Jules' place is in a dumpy industrial space, with a cool automotive mural and all the money invested in high-end stereo equipment.
  • Dirty Cop: Saporta.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: the prostitute who drops the cassette tape in Jules's mailbag.
  • Falling in Love Montage: Jules and Cynthia, takes place in a single night rather than over a series of dates.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: the prostitute's tape.
  • Instant Sedation: Gorodish knocks out Le Curé with some sort of gas from a spray can.
  • Loony Fan: Jules is one of these.
  • MacGuffin: Times two.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Played with a little bit. Alba is a chronic shoplifter. Jules first becomes attracted to her when he sees her steal from a record shop. After they start dating, she gives Jules a shoplifted Rolex.
  • Police Are Useless: They achieve very little themselves. And Da Chief is corrupt.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Most of the major characters smoke. Gorodish in particular, arguably the "coolest" character, smokes like a chimney.
  • Stalking Is Love: Cynthia Hawkins's eventual attraction to Loony Fan Jules.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Le Curé and L'Antillais.

Cafe FleshDanny Peary Cult Movies ListDr. Strangelove
The Discreet Charm of the BourgeoisieRoger Ebert Great Movies ListDo the Right Thing
The Devil and Max DevlinFilms of the 1980sDragonslayer
The Discreet Charm of the BourgeoisieFrench FilmsDon't Look Back

alternative title(s): Diva
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