Nadja

1995 Directed by Michael Almereyda. Starring Suzy Amis, Galaxy Craze, Martin Donovan, Peter Fonda, Jared Harris, Karl Geary, Elina Lowensohn, David Lynch.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 29, 1995

From the director of the bizarre cult hit Twister comes this genuinely affecting comedy-horror film that updates the Dracula lineage to present-day New York City. The movie follows the meanderings of the Count's daughter, Nadja (Lowensohn), as she tries to cope with both the recent death of her father (at the hands of a nicely crazed Peter Fonda) and her place in the world of the living. Fonda, as a very distant quasi-relative of the Van Helsing clan, and his nephew Jim (Donovan) soon become involved in yet another vampire hunt, this time involving the beautiful, delicate Nadja, though the question of who is the hunter and who is the prey, seemingly, is without much resolution here. The story borrows heavily from what has come before, from the stakes through the heart to Renfield (Geary) to much of the vampiric mythos, and then knocks it all just a little off-kilter. Nadja has much of the spare, deadpan look and humor of early Jarmusch films; it's Stranger Than Paradise by way of Salem's Lot. Cinematographer Jim Denault's faultless black-and-white photography perfectly captures the edgy hopelessness that surrounds Nadja's (un)life like a tattered gray shroud (much use is made of a toy Fisher-Price Pixelvision camera, as well as more conventional techniques), but Almereyda's direction never lets this bloody gem become too bogged down in its own vampiric angst. Although the film sometimes dances dangerously close to camp, an oddly touching comic sense -- like the scene in which Van Helsing describes his dispatching of Dracula by referring to the count as being “confused… he was like Elvis at the end” -- pulls it right back up and into the realm of something we've never really seen before. Infinitely subdued, sexy, and melancholy, Nadja is one of the most stylish and quietly exhilarating genre movies to arrive in a long time. Recommended, and not just if you wear black all the time.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Nadja, Michael Almereyda, Suzy Amis, Galaxy Craze, Martin Donovan, Peter Fonda, Jared Harris, Karl Geary, Elina Lowensohn, David Lynch

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