Nadja (1994): Tune in, chill out, drop dead.
Nadja from 1994 is one of those utterly rare gems that you happen to accidentally discover in tv´s night programme and which just makes you wonder how you haven´t heard of this special movie before. It took me several months of sporadic search for the movie´s title as I only caught the last 15 minutes when it was aired and, trust me, it was well worth the continuous search.
Nadja is not your typical tale of vampires, although it consists of the classical cast of characters and is kept close to the original of Bram Stoker´s Dracula in a kind of reverse manner. There are various philosophical and psychological elements, allusions and interhuman conflicts that make the movie stand out from other adaptations.
Filmed in black and white and set in 90s Greenwich Village, New York, this hip low budget production´s style is reminiscent of independent movies of the same era by Jim Jarmusch or even Clerks by Kevin Smith. The episodic storyline which strongly relies on dialogue, at times funny and sad and giving deep insights to the characters´ minds and feelings of melancholy and their longing for changes, is heavily supported by deadpan acting and the recurring motif of smoking cigarettes.
The production work of David Lynch is all too present and if you know and love David Lynch´s Wild At Heart, obvious comparisons will come to your mind in various scenes.
Stylistically, the experimental use of a Pixelvision camera might at times challenge one´s awareness of what is actually going on but it definitely has its justified place in this beautiful sea of changes of pace, flashbacks with voiceover and stunning cuts.
First thing that I kept in mind and that made me want to rewatch the movie in full was the soundtrack. The music of Portishead and My Bloody Valentine is supportive to the characters´ minds and combines perfectly with the above mentioned sylistic features. The track played during the credits outro is probably the best choice that you could imagine for a sad and uplifting ending.
I can not miss to point out the ever so breathtaking presence of main actress Elina Löwensohn as the lonely vampire being struck by the pain of fleeting joy while strolling New York´s streets at night and searching for shelter in night bars.
I wonder how Elina and Galaxy Craze, the second main actress, have escaped my attention.
It is true that I have a weak spot for 90s style and aesthetics, be it musically or fashionwise, and that I am a big admirer of David Lynch. Heartstrings were plucked in nearly each and every scene and Nadja by Michael Almereyda instantly became my second favorite movie.
People need to know about this extraordinary approach to the genre of vampire movies, a work of darkness presented with hauntig style. I was left pretty much speechless in the end.