Haneke's made-for-TV film of Kafka's classic is faithful in letter and spirit to the very end. K, a land surveyor (or is he?), turns up at a village and undergoes endless bewildering, frustrating and demeaning experiences at the hands both of a repressive bureaucracy (the Castle, which we never actually see) and of the strangely complicitous villagers. A strong sense of absurdity imbues the overall atmosphere of guilt, paranoia, misplaced ambition, desire and impotence, and Haneke's cool, characteristically austere direction and the stark design (the village is merely a scattering of smallish houses linked by forever snowy streets) lend the film a strange, mesmerising logic all of its own.
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