Diva | 1981
American opera diva Cynthia Hawkins (Wilhelmenia Fernandez) famously refuses to record her performances, and when Parisian postman Jules (Frédéric Andréi) secretly tapes a recital, he becomes involved in a game of ‘Where’s La Wally?’ as the bootleg cassette becomes Le MacGuffin in a drugs’n’prostitution racket... but forget the plot, this is Jean-Jacques Beineix and1980s Paris, and style is everything.
Jules records the concert, and also nicks Hawkins’ frock, at the faded and crumbling the Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, 37 bis, boulevard de la Chappelle in the 18th arrondissement, not far from the Gare du Nord.
Long abandoned and used as a warehouse, the 19th century theatre was taken over in the Seventies by legendary British theatre director Peter Brook as the base for his international rep company. Although renovated, the theatre was not redecorated, hence the strikingly distressed look.
Nadia (Chantal Deruaz), intending to meet a contact to hand over incriminating evidence, arrives at the vast Gare St Lazare, in fact the world’s third largest railway station, on rue St-Lazare.
She’s abducted by two sinister men from the station exit on rue d’Amsterdam and, attempting to escape, gets a stiletto in the back, but not before slipping the compromising cassette into Jules’ postbag.
The ‘Fox Bar’ across the street, from which the law watches, helpless and horrified, is now l’Atlantique, Place de Budapest at rue d’Amsterdam.
Jules bumps into Vietnamese girl Alba (Thuy An Luu), shoplifting albums at record store the Lido Musique, 68 Champs Elysées, following her along the broad leafy shopping thoroughfare.
Guiltily, Jules returns the stolen dress to Ms Hawkins at her suite in the impossibly luxurious Hotel Royal Monceau, 35-39 avenue Hoche, just off the place Charles de Gaulle, where they strike up an unlikely friendship.
The pair take a walk through the nearby Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde to the misty Jardin des Tuileries.
The warehouse apartment of ultra-cool Gorodish (Richard Bohringer) stood on quai de la Seine at rue de Crimée in the Bassin de la Villette, alongside the 19th century lift bridge over the Canal de l'Ourcq. The warehouse itself has been redeveloped, but the bridge, with its striking pillars and wheels, is still operational.
The assassins are soon on the trail of Jules as he picks up his bike at Cité Berryer, on rue Royale south of the pillared frontage of Église de la Madeleine, which you can see as he’s chased along the road.
Jules attempts to lose the car by scooting his bike through the arcades of the rue de Rivoli before disappearing down the steps into the Concorde metro station and driving onto a conveniently waiting subway train.
He drives off the train at Opéra station, though the moving walkway he drives along is that of Chatelet, before dumping his bike and leaving his pursuer in front of the Paris Opera.
Looking for somewhere safe to stay, Jules heads west, to the far end of avenue Foch, and Porte Dauphine, which is where he asks his prostitute friend if he can crash at her place. The metro entrance is one of the few remaining original glass art nouveau ‘butterfly roof’ metro stations designed by Hector Guimard.
When the is chased into the nearby Étoile-Foch entertainment complex with its arcades and bowling alley.
Rescued by Gorodish, Jules and Alba head off to the coast to recuperate. The striking lighthouse in which they stay is Phare de Gatteville (Gatteville Lighthouse), just north of Barfleur, east of Cherbourg on the Normandy coast. At 247 feet, it’s the third tallest lighthouse in the world, and is now open as a museum.
Back in the centre of Paris, it’s in the grand gilt auditorium of the 2,500-seat Théâtre du Châtelet, 1 place du Châtelet, that Jules finally comes clean and plays his recording for Cynthia Hawkins.