Steve Soderbergh did a 180 degree turnaround from his debut film sex, lies, and videotape with Kafka, a stark art-film fable for literature majors. Jeremy Irons plays a fictional Franz Kafka, living in Prague in 1919. By day, Kafka works in a massive, impersonal insurance company. At night, he spends his time alone writing stories about men who turn into giant cockroaches. Although quiet and solitary, he becomes a suspect in a murder investigation conducted by Inspector Grubach (Armin Mueller-Stahl) when a friend of his turns up dead. Rather than being harassed by Grubach, Kafka decides to investigate his friend's murder on his own. Kafka speaks to his dead friend's girlfriend, Gabriela (Theresa Russell) and talks with gravestone carver Bizzlebek (Jeroen Krabbe). Kafka follows the clues to the Castle, a menacing tower that casts its shadow over the city and houses files on everything. He winds his way through the cellars and tunnels of the Castle, where he encounters the evil and insidious Dr. Murnau (Ian Holm), whom he hopes holds the solution to the murder. … More
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Critic Reviews for Kafka
Soderbergh does demonstrate again here that he's a gifted director, however unwise in his choice of project.
A movie about Franz Kafka? It's a good idea for a microsecond. Then it dissolves into a dumb proposition.
The effect is artistic, but it's also obvious when the material cried out for unsettling.
All the Kafka basics are there for the literary types to muse over and it has great entertainment value in its unpretentious playfulness.
Soderbergh's sophomore jinx, a pastiche of styles (noir, German Expressionism) and themes (personal and political oppression), further hampered by the vastly miscast Jeremy Irons.
One of Soderbergh's most fascinating films.
Overwrought over long and over indulgent
Lem Dobb's script doesn't rely on comprehension or linearity, but the whole scope of the project has its compelling root.
Quite often, the visual feast is enough to hold audience attention. But, in the end, it all feels rather empty.
Audience Reviews for Kafka
Mysterious and stylish but incoherent and empty, "Kafka" is a good-looking disappointment for director Steven Soderbergh. Impressive camerawork and snappy editing ensure that it won't be forgotten, but there just simply isn't enough going on to make it entertaining. The characters and story are dull, and on top of that, it's confusing.More
Moody, mysterious, and measured thriller shot in beautiful black & white except for a pivotal sequence inside "the Castle." Soderbergh's best film is quite unlike any other in dropping Jeremy Irons, utterly convincing as Franz Kafka circa 1919 Prague, amidst a very Kafkaesque series of encounters. The insurance clerk's appointed assistants are two of the funniest oddball characters in film history. I last watched this 15 years ago until tonight and was completely reaffirmed why this remains one of my favorites of the 1990s.More
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