Capaldi wrings a lot of laughs out of Kafka’s inability to figure out what Samsa should turn into. A giant banana? A kangaroo? Even when the answer is literally staring at him in the face, Kafka is hilariously obtuse.
Richard E. Grant stars as Kafka the Man but more so the Myth in this delightfully absurd take on the tortured Czech’s best-known work. Originally made for BBC Scotland, It’s The Night Before Christmas as few have ever imagined it as a wordsmith battles writer’s block and a bizarre collection of disturbances and intrusions as he struggles to write his piece’s opening line. Nothing works.
The film of course borrows one of its premises from the Frank Capra classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”, which suggest a happy ending awaits. Even that association came by an accident Kafka would likely approve of. Via RogerEert.com’s December 2014 review:
Oddly enough, though, Capaldi’s film came about when his wife accidentally said in conversation “Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life” when she meant to say Frank Capra, the kind of slip of the tongue that many writers (including, no doubt, the Kafka portrayed in this film) would see as an accidental stroke of genius that gets the ball rolling.
Set aside 23 minutes tonight, gather family and friends, serve a drink or two, and set forth on a new holiday tradition. Happy Christmas. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.