- READER REVIEWS
(No longer in theaters)
When Jean-Jacques Beineix’s thriller Diva opened in this country in the unstylish year of 1982, MTV hadn’t yet become a cultural force and films in which style could be justified for its own sake were the province of the avant-garde. Diva was like something beamed down from the Planet of Cool. Restored by Rialto Pictures in a print that colloquializes the clunkier subtitles, the film seems more grounded than it did 25 years ago—but only because, thanks to music videos and computer-generated imagery, the inorganic is now the rule, not the exception. Diva seems organic through and through. What could be more natural than the juxtaposition of the industrial and the New Wave—the hero’s crumbling concrete walls and the bright-pink vinyl coat of Thuy An Luu as a pubescent Vietnamese shoplifter. (The superrealist auto-wreck paintings against those walls conjure up J. G. Ballard and the world as a simulacrum.) The aquarium that seesaws—fluorescent blue water sloshing—in the middle of the loft of the Zen avatar (Richard Bohringer) is like the film frame itself, off-balance in the most balanced way imaginable. Best of all is when the bicycle-messenger hero (Frédéric Andréi) listens to Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez sing the aria from La Wally, and at that first sublime high note, the camera lifts off and begins to sway. Every time the aria is replayed, the camera moves at the same instant. It has to. This is style as a force of nature.