Well, to be honest, I don't get this movie. It is pretty slow, and none of the characters seem to make ANY sense.
It doesn't make for an easy viewing, that's for sure. Kirk Douglas' character, based on Elia Kazan, is very strange - even though the actor does a good job. You don't understand his motives for the things he does, and you certainly can't sympathize with him. Moreover, I think Leonard Maltin was right by saying Deborah Kerr's role was demeaning. She is constantly humiliated in this film, and as a huge fan of her work, I found it rather upsetting.
The direction is good - it is, after all, the director's personal experiences. All in all, this is not a movie for everyone.