Directed by Dan Wolman. Written by Marc Behm. Cast: Katya Berger, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Mandy Rice-Davies, Massimo Serato, Yehuda Efroni, Annie Belle, Debra Berger, Shirin Taylor, Paul Muller, Marcus Beresford, Tom Felleghy. (R, 92 mins)
This review was originally published in slightly different form on the Mobius Home Video Forum in March 2011.
I remember NANA being in regular rotation on Showtime's "After Hours" late-night softcore porn schedule in the 1980s, but never managed to see it, largely because I was 11. It's spent nearly three decades in obscurity (only three user reviews on IMDb, two of which seem to be written by the same person) before appearing streaming on Netflix. One of several Italian-made Cannon productions from the early 1980s, NANA is, as the opening credits clearly state, "Loosely based on the novel by Emile Zola." Loosely? You can say that again.
Nana also explores her lesbian side by engaging in hot fling with Satin (Debra Berger), which is noteworthy because Katya Berger and Debra Berger go at it in a couple of explicit, fully nude love scenes, while offscreen, they're half-sisters with different mothers. I wonder if William Berger ever saw this. Anyone else a little skeeved out by that casting decision? I can't recall this ever happening somewhere else. Sure, they don't really look much alike (Debra looks a lot like their father and Katya does not), but still. Can anyone imagine two half-brothers being cast in a relatively mainstream film that would require a nude sex scene between the two of them?
|Pre-production trade ad. Mary|
Stavin and Kevin Brennan ultimately
weren't in the film.
Most bewildering about this opulent-looking but dull film is just how far it strays from Zola's novel. Zola ended the novel with the bitchy Nana dying of smallpox. In the Golan-Globus NANA, she takes off for India to meditate and gets a warm, applauding farewell from everyone whose lives she's ruined! And they lament that "Paris won't be the same without Nana!" Indeed. Directed by Dan Wolman (MAID IN SWEDEN), and written by Marc Behm, who had just scripted the 1982 slasher HOSPITAL MASSACRE for Cannon and in clearly better days, co-wrote CHARADE (1963) and HELP! (1965). Yes, the classic Beatles movie. Behm also wrote the novel Eye of the Beholder that became a memorably bizarre Ewan McGregor/Ashley Judd thriller in 2000. Music by one "Enio Morricone." Enio? Seriously? It's not like Ennio Morricone wasn't one of the go-to guys for film scores for nearly 20 years by that point.
NANA is so obscure that there isn't even a trailer on YouTube. There was probably never a trailer at all. There's a few pieces of Morricone's score, but the only thing of substance I could find is this NANA-in-15-minutes compilation of scenes, taken from an echoey German-language print. Hell, turn the volume off if you want. You'll still be able to follow it.
Oh, wait! It only seems appropriate to watch this before any viewing of a pay cable softcore relic like NANA: