Post-WWI Prague. After the disappearance of a colleague, Kafka (Irons), an aspiring writer and toiling clerk, is torn between a diffident policeman (Mueller-Stahl) and an angry revolutionary (Russell). Slowly but inexorably he's drawn into the deadly political machinations of the times, and an experiment in social engineering more nightmarish than even his own imaginings. At night, leprous, lobotomised creatures skulk in the shadows, while anarchists conspire and the authorities despatch body-snatchers from the castle high above the cobbled gas-lit city streets. Shot in inky b/w Soderbergh's follow-up to sex, lies and videotape took a hammering from the US critics. It is, however, an intriguing, idiosyncratic and often highly entertaining movie - a biopic which conflates elements of the author's life and writings into a fiction much bigger than life. It takes a sluggish half hour to take shape, and even then the absurdist comedy seems misjudged, but it's more playful than pretentious, and it works as a genuinely eye-catching mystery thriller.
Cast and crew