Kafka (1991) - Rotten Tomatoes


Kafka (1991)



Critic Consensus: Kafka does not rise to the artistic success of its subject, struggling to approximate the nightmarish absurdity that defined the author's work despite thoughtful direction by Steven Soderbergh and a gorgeous black and white color palette.

Kafka Photos

Movie Info

Kafka is filmmaker Steven Soderbergh's 180-degree turnaround from his debut success sex, lies and videotape. A strange mixture of fantasy, horror and comedy constructed as a thriller, it stars Jeremy Irons as the title character, who is not specifically Franz Kafka but rather a Prague insurance salesman living around the turn of the century whose avocation, of course, is writing darkly bizarre stories. When his best friend's mysterious death is ruled a suicide, Kafka refuses to accept the police findings, and discovers that his friend was involved with an anarchist group plotting to overthrow the oppressive government.

Watch it now


Jeremy Irons
as Franz Kafka
Joel Grey
as Burgel
Ian Holm
as Murnau
Jeroen Krabbé
as Bizzlebek
Armin Mueller-Stahl
as Insp. Grubach
Alec Guinness
as Chief Clerk
Brian Glover
as Henchman
Leon Silver
as Friend of Kafka
David Shaw Parker
as Interrogating Attendant
Karel Belohradsky
as Inspector's Assistant
Keith Allen
as Assistant Ludwig
Zuzana Halustokov
as Friend of Kafka
Simon McBurney
as Assistant Oscar
Robert Flemyng
as The Keeper of the Flies
Matyelok Gibbs
as Concierge
Hilde Van Mieghem
as Female Anarchist
Ion Caramitru
as Solemn Anarchist
Hilde Van Meighem
as Female Anarchist
Jan Nemejovský
as Mustachioed Anarchist
Toon Agterberg
as Youthful Anarchist
Emil Wolk
as Man Under Microscope
Josef Abrhám
as Friend of Kafka
Guy Fithen
as Friend of Kafka
Zuzana Halustokova
as Friend of Kafka
Ondrej Havelka
as Friend of Kafka
Lenka Korinkova
as Friend of Kafka
Petr Lepsa
as Friend of Kafka
Debora Weston
as Friend of Kafka
Jan Slovák
as Man at Bar
Jerome Flynn
as Castle Attendant
Ewan Stewart
as Castle Attendant
James McPhee
as Castle Attendant
Lubos Rychvalsky
as Kidnapped Vagrant
Pavel Myslik
as Vagrant
Petr Jakl
as Quarry Laborer
Josef Sebek
as Inspector's Assistant
Robert Krejcik
as Evil Wagon Driver
Vitezsalv Bouchner
as Lens Cleaner
Dave Jensen
as The Laughing Man
View All

Critic Reviews for Kafka

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (7)

Soderbergh's talent is not in doubt; you can see, in the often elegant images shot by Walt Lloyd, a real filmmaker at work. But his choice of material is dubious.

February 6, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Steven Soderbergh's Kafka is a very bad well-directed movie.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 1.5/5

The effect is artistic, but it's also obvious when the material cried out for unsettling.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

A movie about Franz Kafka? It's a good idea for a microsecond. Then it dissolves into a dumb proposition.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Soderbergh does demonstrate again here that he's a gifted director, however unwise in his choice of project.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

A stimulating blend of biography, hypothesis, interpretation and afterthought. It's a story about the 20th century.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

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.

Stephen Earnest
Stephen Earnest

Super Reviewer


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.

Doctor Strangeblog
Doctor Strangeblog

Super Reviewer

Under appreciated Soderbergh gem.

Anthony Valletta
Anthony Valletta

Super Reviewer

Kafka Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features