Simon’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is the typical film that you desire to make in film school. You have watched poetic, foreign directors, and now you want to copy their style and make your own film. When you finish the script, you are sure it’ll be a masterpiece. You have the whole film up in your mind. That camera angle will be like that. He’ll say that line like that. It will a masterpiece, no doubt. Then pre-production start, you find out that you cannot cast a Cary Grant type for the lead. No Rita Hayworth for the female part. You cast horrible actors, but those were the only ones who showed up at casting, and their salary is low. You suddenly stop caring for your idea, you want to make a character disabled, but you can’t. The production on set is a disaster. Your boomer doesn’t arrive. Suddenly, you are the DoP. You forget a crucial shot. You are now also responsible for making sandwiches. Production is a disaster. You havent been able to show your visions. The result is a chaos. The final film is dull and pretentious.
And it is. I can’t help but have mercy for Kubrick. Fear and Desire... it’s not as bad as Kubrick claimed it to be, or the norm for that sake. Just like my own recent project, I was heavily disappointed in it, while other people would tell, that it was great. It just didn’t reach all my masters' standards at all, and therefore, I was disappointed in myself, as ridiculous it sounds. I am sure Kubrick felt the same way. It’s not a good film, it’s ambigiousity has no purpose and it’s horribly executed, it really is a kid's drawing on a fridge, but I am ok with it. Kubrick learned a lot with this film (same with Killer’s Kiss), and he became one of the best directors of all time.