I read Kafka’s The Trial back in high school or college for fun, because that’s the kind of kid I was, and I really loved it – but that was let’s say several years ago and aside from the premise and general nightmarish inexorability of it, I didn’t remember a whole lot of actual details about it going into the film. That may have been unfortunate, since I did find it difficult to follow in some parts (I’ll admit to a little drowsiness, too), but in a way, it kind of weirdly enhanced the experience, since the whole point is Josef K is stuck in this labyrinthine and inescapable legal system, on trial for charges that are never stated. He can’t figure out what’s going on with him, so some confusion on my part felt fitting.
I wasn’t wholly on board with Anthony Perkins’ performance, especially in the beginning – what was he so nervous about? He had me feeling like he must be guilty of SOMETHING. Later he often strikes an odd note between exasperated and bored. I also wanted to see more Jeanne Moreau, but I was happy when Romy Schneider popped up. I’ve only seen her in a couple of other things, but I like her a lot. And of course, Welles as the The Advocate Hastler is unparalleled, a sort of older, fatter Harry Lime; less boyish but equally devoted to manipulating to the system to his own benefit.