Jean-Jacques BeineixFrance117 minutes1981ColourFrench
The movie-mad debut of Jean-Jacques Beineix won the César for Best First Feature and went on to massive international success. Outrageously stylish (every shot seems designed to, as Cocteau once instructed, astonish), Diva is about an opera-besotted young Parisian courier who, after securing a bootleg tape of his favourite singer (celebrated soprano Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez, singing Catalini's "La Wally"), becomes embroiled in a fiasco that could cost him his life. His tape gets mixed up with another dropped into his bag, one that incriminates a crime boss in drugs and prostitution, and soon both underworld goons and les flics are on the naïve carrier's trail — never mind the record pirates who are after that rare opera demo. The deadly pursuit culminates in a legendary chase sequence on foot and moped in the Paris Metro, but even before this astounding feat Beineix has engineered enough chic imagery for 20 movies. "Brilliant! A visual extravaganza!" (Roger Ebert).