DIVA. Les Films Galaxie, France, 1981. United Artists Classics, US, 1982. Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez, Frédéric Andréi, Richard Bohringer, Thuy An Luu, Jacques Fabbri, Chantal Deruaz, Anny Romand, Roland Bertin. Based on a novel by Daniel Odier (as Delacorta). Director: Jean-Jacques Beineix.

   I am beginning to think that recommending films to friends should be relegated to the same, ill-advised category as counseling friends who are battling toward divorce or who want to prevent their teenagers from making the same mistakes yours did.

   E. T. made me feel better about children and aliens than anything since Close Encounters, and the newly released French import Diva provoked in me similar feelings about opera singers, French postal workers, and fourteen-year-old Vietnamese flower children. I thought it the most exhilarating thriller in my recent memory, the most stylish, the most imaginative in its use of fairy-tale elements to grace an unlikely mix of operamania/record pirating/corrupt police officials/drugs and prostitution with wit, affection and visual beauty.

   I also liked the references to other film directors (of which the most engaging was the Renoir sequence involving a “blind” beggar) and wallowed in the sentimental ending.

   The friends to whom I had recommended the film stared glumly into space when I asked them what they had thought of it. One of them muttered something about the film being too “self-conscious,” while the other was more to the point: “Why when I see only two films a year, does one of them have to be Diva?”

Well, I will say no more except to add that I think that Diva may be a movie buff’s delight, but too special for some people’s tastes, and if you happen to see it and don’t like it, don’t complain to me. I’m only recommending it to myself, and I am going to see it a second time.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 6, No. 4, July-August 1982.