January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Jules (Frederic Andrei) is a messenger with a pretty simple life, but he is satisfied with it and loves to spend time with his friends, often listening to opera music. He is a fan of many opera singers, but one strikes him more than the others, but much to his dismay, she refuses to be recorded and that limits his chances to her perform. The woman is American diva Cynthia Hawkins (Wilhelmenia Fernandez) and while she isn’t keen on being taped, Jules plans to make his own recording, without her permission, of course. He manages to do just that and soon becomes marked by Taiwanese music pirates, but he soon ends up involved in something much more serious, to be sure. The tape of Hawkins’ performance is mistaken for a taped murder and soon, Jules is being hunted by assassins, who will do whatever it takes to recover the tape. As Jules runs from his enemies, he encounters all sorts of interesting people, including some he never imagined he’d run into…

After a dismal release from Winstar, Diva has been reissued by Anchor Bay and of course, the product is much better this second time around. The video transfer is a massive improvement and the rest of the disc is as well, so I was pleased with this new edition, to say the least. But I’ll discuss the disc later on, now is the time to talk about Diva and if you ask me, it is one terrific motion picture. You’ll find romance, dark comedy, an excellent soundtrack, and even a little action mixed it, this is a loaded movie in all respects. The elements mesh together very well also, so Diva never feels disjointed in the least, which is pretty impressive. The performances are superb, with great turns from such names as Wilhelmenia Fernandez, Frederic Andrei, Roland Bertin, and Richard Bohringer, among others. In addition the nice acting efforts, the direction is on the money, the music is great, the cinematography is superb, and the production design is terrific, this is how you make a movie, if you ask me. I’ve been waiting for a worthy treatment for this film and while this new disc isn’t perfect, it’s the best version of Diva you’ll find on home video.

This couldn’t have been an easy movie to make, but director Jean-Jacques Beineix manages to bring it all together and then some. He also helped pen the screenplay and that adds even more to praise him for, as Diva excels at almost every turn, if you ask me. I think any films that blends this many genres is open for some real problems, but Beineix seems to hold the elements steady and that ensures they mesh very well, impressive work indeed. Beineix hasn’t done much work since his debut here with Diva, but in any event, his mark on cinema is immortal due to this great movie, to be sure. Other films directed by Beineix include Roselyne and the Lions, The Moon in the Gutter, Betty Blue, and Mortal Transfer. The cast here includes Frederic Andrei (Venus Beauty Salon, Sentimental Journey), Roland Bertin (The Wounded Man, Black Light), Richard Bohringer (Five Minute Break, Yvonne’s Perfume), and Wilhelmenia Fernandez.

Video: How does it look?

Diva is presented in a 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The previous DVD from Winstar was awful at best and as such, it is most welcome to see a new transfer released, especially one this good. There is still some grain evident on the image, but not an extreme amount and in the end, it offers a massive improvement in all respects. The image here is much cleaner and sharper, which really enhances the experience, given the film’s lush visuals. The colors seem very vivid here, but never smear or bleed, while flesh tones retain natural hues throughout. No problems with contrast either, as black levels are well balanced and ensure a solid level of detail. This is not a perfect transfer, but it is very good and fans should be most pleased indeed.

Audio: How does it sound?

The film’s original mix uses a blend of English and French anyway, but if you must have all English, Anchor Bay has included both options here. The French and English Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks sound terrific and since this flick has a lot of music, that is good news indeed. The soundtrack is richer and more dynamic than ever, while the various sound effects come through in fine form as well. The surrounds aren’t used all the time, but they do hit often and to effective ends, so your home theater will be in full use here. The dialogue is clean and crisp in both tracks, but of course, the French one is much more natural, so I recommend it. This disc also includes 2.0 surround options in English and French, as well as optional English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes a brief interview with director Jean-Jacques Beineix, a talent file on him as well, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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