The Trial

A pointless second film version of Franz Kafka’s unfinished novel. Done in English and with a miscast American movie star as hero, just like its 1962 predecessor (by Orson Welles), this is shot on locationi.e., in Prague, a much more concrete location than the one in the bookand, as pedantically written by Harold Pinter, sticks superficially closer than Welles’s version to the original novel in terms of events. But under the unimaginative hand of English director David Jones, far from offering a true conceptual alternative to Welles, this film often plagiarizes Welles’s work, and, worse still, tends to plagiarize the less interesting shots. Twin Peaks’s Kyle MacLachlan makes a rather unconvincing Josef K (most of his actorly energy seems taken up in pronouncing clerk as clark to make him sound English), but the remainder of the cast is much betterAnthony Hopkins, Jason Robards, Polly Walker, Juliet Stevenson, and Alfred Molinaand Phil Meheux’ black-and-white cinematography is at least serviceable. If you don’t find the notion of a Masterpiece Theatre edition of Kafka as offensive as I do, you might actually enjoy this. (JR)

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