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K.af.ka Fragment

Czech writer Franz Kafka, the master of modern alienation, is a cult figure whose followers, mostly college students, should enjoy "K.aF.ka Fragment," an arty, impressionistic reflection on his relationship with his German fiancee. Not an easygoing fellow, he demanded a letter a day from Felice, a Berlin office worker, but wrote to her up to four times a day. Their rare meetings and on-again, off-again engagement paled in comparison to these postal feats. Director Christian Frosch spins a web of literary mystery around the pair.

With:
With: Lars Rudolph, Ursula Ofner.

Czech writer Franz Kafka, the master of modern alienation, is a cult figure whose followers, mostly college students, should enjoy “K.aF.ka Fragment,” an arty, impressionistic reflection on his relationship with his German fiancee. Not an easygoing fellow, he demanded a letter a day from Felice, a Berlin office worker, but wrote to her up to four times a day. Their rare meetings and on-again, off-again engagement paled in comparison to these postal feats. Using excerpts from “Letters to Felice” in their English translation as voiceover narration, director Christian Frosch spins a web of literary mystery around the pair, aided by the eclectic shooting style of lenser-producer Johannes Hammel.

Though the letters offer glimpses into Kafka, pic prefers fantasy to facts about the artist and his beautiful penpal. With her bobbed hair and bold eyes, Ursula Ofner is a strong if mute Felice, a little castrating to judge by one surrealistic scene where Kafka goes bonkers while she laughs. Lars Rudolph (“Run Lola Run”) looks nothing like the writer, but is impressively unhappy as a man filled with rage that cannot be expressed except through the written word.

K.af.ka Fragment

Austria-Germany

Production: A Hammel Film & Videoproduktion Vienna)/Konradfroschfilm (Berlin) co-production. (International sales: Austrian Film Commission.) Produced by Johannes Hammel. Directed, written by Christian Frosch, based on Franz Kafka's letters.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W), Johannes Hammel; editor, Frosch; music, VOOV; production designer, Annette Deutschmann; associate producers, Christian Frosch, Kristina Konrad. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (main program), Jan. 27, 2001. Running time: 85 MIN. English dialogue.

With: With: Lars Rudolph, Ursula Ofner.

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