Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Runtime: 98 minutes
This movie is faithful love letter to Franz Kafka and his works. It is also nearly incomprehensible if you are not familiar with the author's writing. Unlike Naked Lunch, which was also released the same year, that can be watched without any knowledge of William Burroughs or his work and not asking yourself every fives minutes what is happening. You are asking other questions about the Naked Lunch but you are not struggling for context with that movie.
Kafka's plot is taken from The Castle and The Trial, two unfinished novels by the author, and details from the author's life. The reason for this is because both novels are unfinished and spends more time going into detail about themes that make Franz Kafka's work unique. Themes such as alienation, bureaucratic insanity, and reality reacting to the absurd. So for something to tell a story Kafka's life was used to fill in any gaps.
The story of the movie revolves around Franz Kafka. A insurance clerk for the Kingdom of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) by day and a writer by night. He was content with this existence until a co-worker and friend of his is found dead in the river. Kafka starts to look into his co-worker's life and finds that nothing is what it appears to be. On his investigation he runs in to anarchists, artists, other authors, surgically altered people who kill people, and all manner of bureaucratic functionaries. Kafka's inquiries lead him to the go visit the castle and try to put everything back to what passes for normality.
Overall it is a beautiful film, rich in atmosphere, dark humor, and unexplained references to the author's works. This film lead me to hunting down Kafka's works and making him one of my favorite authors. Fans of noir movies and atmospheric cinema worlds will like this movie. The unexplained references can take someone out of the film but there is enough other things in the film to keep ones interest.
MVT: The cast of this movie and the subtle dark humor.
Make or Break: Jeremy Iron's performance in this film.
Score: 8.24 out of 10