Nadja (film)

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Directed byMichael Almereyda
Produced byMary Sweeney
Amy Hobby
Written byMichael Almereyda
Music bySimon Fisher Turner
CinematographyJim Denault
Edited byDavid Leonard
Kino Link Company
Distributed byOctober Films
Release date
  • September 13, 1994 (1994-09-13) (TIFF)
  • September 1, 1995 (1995-09-01) (United States)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1 million
Box office$443,169

Nadja is a 1994 film directed by Michael Almereyda starring Elina Löwensohn as Nadja and Peter Fonda as Van Helsing. As the characters' names suggest, Nadja is a vampire film, but it treats elements of the genre in an understated arthouse style.


Count Voivoide Arminius Chousescu Dracula dies with a stake in his heart,and his daughter Nadja (Elina Löwensohn) shows up to claim the body, hoping that his death will free her from the life her father has forced on her. She has the body cremated and prepares to take the ashes to Brooklyn and pay a visit to her twin brother Edgar whom she hasn't seen for a long time. Before she leaves, however, she stops for a drink and meets Lucy. Lucy is also feeling a sense of emptiness, so she takes Nadja home. They appear to cheer each other up, and they wind up having sex together.

So, who killed Dracula? Van Helsing (Peter Fonda), of course. And Helsing's nephew Jim, who also happens to be Lucy's husband, has to bail him out of jail. Helsing knows that, if Dracula's body is not destroyed properly, he'll be back. When Helsing learns that Dracula's body has been removed from the morgue, he enlists Jim's help.

Meanwhile, Nadja goes to visit Edgar and meets his nurse and live-in lover Cassandra. Edgar is sick. Nadja persuades Cassandra to move Edgar to her apartment where she can help him by transfusing him with plasma from the blood of shark embryoes, which is what Nadja uses to stay healthy. Edgar revives enough to drink some of Nadja's blood. However, Lucy has fallen under Nadja's mesmerism. She leads both Jim and Van Helsing to Edgar's house where Nadja is staying with her Renfield. Edgar awakens long enough to warn Cassandra to leave the house, as she is in danger. Cassandra, who just happens to be Van Helsing's daughter, attempts to escape, with Nadja pursuing her, Lucy pursuing Nadja, and Jim pursuing Lucy. Cassandra runs into a gas station where it looks like two burly mechanics are going to protect her, but Nadja mesmerizes them and kills one of them. The other one shoots Nadja in the abdomen.

Edgar is improving. He unites with the Helsings to stop Nadja. He receives a "psychic fax" from Nadja, telling him that she is injured and must return to Transylvania. She also mentions that she's taking Cassandra with her, so Edgar and the Helsings high-tail it to Transylvania, too. As they approach the castle, Nadja begins a transfusion of Cassandra's blood while Cassandra sleeps. While Jim fights with Nadja's Renfield , Edgar and Helsing drive a stake through Nadja's heart. Lucy is released, Nadja is destroyed, and Cassandra wakes up. However, not all is as it seems. Nadja narrates the epilogue: "They cut off my head...burned my one one suspected that I was now alive in Cassandra's body. Edgar and I were married at City Hall...there *is* a better way to live."


The deadpan acting, episodic nature of the plot, and the presence of Martin Donovan and Löwensohn are suggestive of a Hal Hartley film though he was not involved in the production. The Chicago Review called it "Hal Hartley meets David Lynch". The style of the film changes from dramatic horror to horror comedy by the end as evidenced by the laughing vampire toy during a trip to Romania.

The film is shot in black and white by Jim Denault mostly at night in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including use of the PXL-2000, and is underscored by an incessantly creepy, dreamlike score/soundscape by Simon Fisher Turner as well as the songs "Soon" and "Lose My Breath" by My Bloody Valentine and "Strangers" and "Roads" by Portishead.



Nadja holds a rating of 60% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 25 reviews.[1]

Reviewing the film in 1995, Roger Ebert gave the film 2 and a half out of four stars. [1]. He wrote of the film: "None of this is played for laughs - exactly."


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