Steven Soderbergh's cult "Kafka" is not a biopic of writer Franz Kafka, yet it has references of his works such as "The Castle", passages of his life (where he tells to a friends to burn his manuscripts away without showing his writings to the public) and a main character who happens to be a writer named Kafka.
The extremely shy Kafka (Jeremy Irons) works in a bureaucratic place where he also writes to himself a few stories and some letters to his father. In this same place he only has one friend, a guy named Edward Raban who disappeared mysteriously. Kafka starts a strange journey trying to figure out what happened to his friend entering in a dangerous game with some strange figures such as Edward's lover and Kafka's co-worker (Theresa Russell) and her revolutionary friends; a very friendly figure who knows too much (Jeroen Krabbé); Grubach a police inspector (Armin Mueller-Stahl); and some of his own work colleagues such as his new assistants (Keith Allen and Simon McBurney), his estranged boss (Alec Guinness) and the annoying Mr. Burgel (Joel Grey); and at last Dr. Murnau (Ian Holm).
In a magnificent performance Jeremy Irons makes of his Kafka a man suffocated by the environment where he lives and the only way to escape of it it's to write stories that reflect his life in an awkward way andor his life as an "investigator" that took him to darker places that could have been a source of inspiration for his works. The movie goes to tell us that he lived in a bizarre and very surrealistic place with surrealistic figures all around him and they were always trying to watch his next step, what he was doing and Kafka run away from this people, hides his writing works. This is a good thriller material!
Soderbergh makes of "Kafka" a good humored film noir that has a great mystery to be solved, the rhythm of the film is intertwined with some slow paced moments where you can pause your brain to solve some of the puzzles, a frantic suspense that goes to complete a surrealistic plot. The final result is a great movie with nothing obvious and it makes good homages to Kafka's work, and homages to another classic films. It is an interesting cross between "The Third Man" and "Brazil", the visual of those two films combined along with the almost colorless Kafka's books are put together in here.
Walt Lloyd's cinematography is one of the most interesting and effective work ever made in film history, a photography that goes from black and white to color in a great way, showing these two worlds that seem to distant so each other when in fact they're close enough. In this case you can sense that the colorful world presented in the castle isn't better than the oppressive grey world outside of its dominions, the colors are presented only to tell us a frightening reality that is so shocking that we really want to go back to the black and white world along with Kafka. And as a great mind said one time: "The black and white doesn't lie".
Unnoticed in its time "Kafka" is a cult film that must be revered by everyone and must of all revered by Kafka's fans even though this is not a biographical movie, it's more like a film that reveals more of his persona and an invitation to visually penetrate to his own creations. Or don't you think that we don't live in a Kafkanian nightmare in a Kafkanian world? 1010.
Review by Rodrigo Amaro from the Internet Movie Database.