It is all very postmodern rather than a predator, the vampire is a neurasthenic social sophisticate who engages in blood-drinking with methods not dissimilar to someone engaging in one-night stands. Immortality is used to echo an inner melancholy for the principal victim becoming vampirised equates with angst and uncertainty. The soundtrack is filled with a series of often haunting voiceovers. It is beautifully photographed in black-and-white (although the frequent jumps into pixelated break-up become more annoying than striking). Director Michael Almereydas camera almost seems to conduct a love affair with the pale, aloof beauty of Elina Lowensohn, serenely following her as she glides through the night in a cowled hood. She lends the centre of the film a melancholic majesty. There is one particularly striking shot with her gliding along while smoking a cigarette with the camera in the foreground seemingly floating on air, while pursuers come in the background. All of this gives Nadja a mesmerisingly dreamy beauty.
There is also a considerable sense of humour to the film, particularly when it comes to some of the interpolations of the tropes of the vampire genre Van Helsing is played against type by Peter Fonda seemingly still in Easy Rider (1969)-mode as an eccentric figure, wearing mirror shades and riding into action on a bicycle; and when Nadja cites her family lineage, she counts names such as Romanian dictator Ceaucescu among the Dracula line.
Nadja was the debut of Michael Almereyda. Many of Michael Almereydas films conduct startling revisions of old themes. Almereyda next made the striking modern mummy film The Eternal/Trance (1998), then went onto the modernised Hamlet (2000) and the baffling and arty sf film Happy Here and Now (2002) about the search for a woman who has vanished on the internet. For the next decade, Almereydas work has consisted of a handful of documentaries, before returning to fiction with another modernised Shakespeare adaptation Cymbeline (2014), the acclaimed Experimenter: The Story of Stanley Milgrim (2015), his best film to date, and the sf film Marjorie Prime (2017) set in a future where people recreate holograms of their departed loved ones. Almereyda also wrote the appealingly offbeat science-fiction film Cherry 2000 (1987).
(Nominee for Best Cinematography at this sites Best of 1994 Awards).