I love Lili Taylor & wanted to love The Addiction (1995) as a rare starring vehicle for her. But this vampire film was a nonsensical lump that just sat there needing a jumpstart & never getting one.
Lili gets bitten by a beautiful vampire (Annabella Sciorra) & now must cope with turning into one herself. But vampires are like drug addicts, & not apt to be able to keep their lives in order while pursuing their next fix.
The black & white photography lends artistic credibility even to the film's cheap or faux philosophical rantings.
Allusions to Sartre & Nietzche in scripts tend to come off as the screenwriter bragging that he took a college course once, & are poor excuses for well-developed characters.
It does all spring to life for the fifteen minutes Christopher Walken was on screen, as a kind of "teach by threatening example" mentor for the naive neo-vampire that Lili is becoming.
From the first moment when you see Walken's silhouette in the street the film has an awesome strength.
But that strength only lasts until the moment Lili awakens nearly blooddrained & finds the Walken character is gone.
Lili did as good a job as could be expected given what she had to work with, & she was as good as Walken when acting opposite Walken; but she couldn't carry the rest of the film alone.
A film with a somewhat similar "arty urban vampire" intent was Nadja (1994). The script, as with The Addiction, was a hopeless muddle infused with childish attempts at profound dialogue which whether intentionally funny or unknowingly juvenile is just bad writing.
There were some "experimental" camera shots that were merely stupid. Sometimes the film looked like a couple goth teenagers with an 8 millimeter camera were filming in their dad's back yard without even bothering with a script (in fact some bits were shot with a toy camera).
Other times the use of 35 mm black & white filmstock resulted in pure symbolist elegance, & certainly the film was better shot & better scored than it was written.
So visually the film kept wavering between masterpiece & goofy, & the script did pretty much the same thing.
Of course, if cheezy B vampire films were its competition, Nadja is superb; it is only in comparison to what it strives to be (something as admirable in its perfection as Bergman's Hour of the Wolf) that it suffers.
The actress who played Dracula's daughter Nadja (Elina Lowensohn) was so legitimately mysterious & sexy & gloomy-acting that the fact that the film was otherwise a noble failure didn't matter just so long as I could watch Elina be Nadja.
Peter Fonda gives a likeable supporting performance as van Helsing, perking up the film with his liesurely earnestness.
Nadja's brother (Jared Harris) likewise haunts the night, but has not inherited their father's bloodlust, so joins forces with van Helsing to bring down his evil & seductive sister, though the film does not present a plotline quite that clearly.
The film's producer David Lynch appears briefly in the morgue, in case anyone needed the clue that director Almereyda was influenced by Eraserhead (1977).
But in total, for all its pretentions & misfires, it's Elina's movie all the way, & nothing else good or bad about the film is so memorable.
Both Nadja & Addiction had artristic intentiions & make the New York cityscape as much a central character as any actor provides. They have so many similarities it would be tempting to run them on a double-bill in a revival theater, except that trying to watch them together with their combined weaknesses, that would almost certainly test viewers' patience beyond the limit.
Continue to next vampire film:
Van Helsing (2004)
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