Notes From Underground (1998)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

This adaptation of Dostoevsky's novella does an exceptional job of retaining the multi-textured richness of the original story about the intimate thoughts of an anonymous lonely building inspector known only as the Underground Man. Everything about the misanthropic civil servant is dull and unpleasant. His job is boring and his only joy comes in using bureaucracy to spitefully torment contractors and architects who despise him. Realizing that he has no friends, the Underground Man does try to ingratiate himself with acquaintances and only ends up even more lonely and bitter. It does not help that he believes himself intellectually superior to those he encounters. He gets involved with a prostitute, Liza, whom he sees at a local brothel. His relationship with her is as complex as he is. On one hand he inflicts his seething rage and the pain of his isolation upon her; on the other, he cares about her and wants to help her escape her sordid situation. He decides to take her to his home, but once she is there, he finds that he is unable to overcome his misanthropy and ends up making her even more miserable. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi
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Henry Czerny
as The Underground Man
Sheryl Lee
as Liza
Jon Favreau
as Zerkov
Seth Green
as Punk Neighbor
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Critic Reviews for Notes From Underground

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Audience Reviews for Notes From Underground


Though the adaptation sets this 1864 novel in modern times, it has to be the best adaptation of any book I have ever seen. Using a videotaped confession of our underground man as the framework, the film relentlessly throws the viewer down his sick and twisted life. Diseased with self-loathing, the man takes perverse pleasure in ruining himself and those around him. Wondrously shot, the film is very well done for never having a wide release. All the characters are well-played, and I found myself both hating and pitying the man as he self-destructs. A definite morality play, this film (like the book), shows the destructive nature of spite.

Erik Kielisch
Erik Kielisch

If Seth Green is the first name that pops into mind when you're thinking about adapting a Dostoevsky novel, this movie is for you! But Czerny did do a good job, and this is probably about as good of an adaptation as is even possible for Notes from Underground.

Adam Roberts
Adam Roberts

"I am a sick man..." and so it begins. Admirable if flawed adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky's novella finds Henry Czerny as the "Underground Man," a man who is trapped in his own thoughts and can't allow himself to be happy because he reasons everything. Movie simplifies the character, his thoughts, and the "incidents" that hurt him in his life. Film also has that typical cheap indie film feel that's so prevalent in the most films from the 90's indie movement, but Czerny actually makes it worthwhile, delivering a decent performance.

Chris Galloway
Chris Galloway

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