'Martin Eden' Review
Say, have you booked your tickets to Italy? Because that is where we are heading now, virtually of course all things considered but for a pretty good reason. Director Pietro Marcello's new take, which he also wrote with Maurizio Braucci, on Jack London's classic novel Martin Eden transforms the titular character from an American writer to an Italian writer who is to be played by Luca Marinelli. Martin begins as a sailor of working class who ends up falling for educated and intellectual Elena (Jessica Cressy) with an upper class background and in order to impress her, sets out to become an influential writer. This leads Martin to a journey through social class, love as well as philosophical battle between socialism and individualism. The film is an elegant odyssey of one man's story, one which seems to be nearly fully realised too.
You know, it's just tremendous when you watch something that you don't really have qualms about and that is exactly what is going on with Martin Eden. Technically and storytelling-wise everything moves very smoothly from the beginning which is somewhat down to the original text which is thought-provoking and then some comes from the filmmaking choices such as the setting of Italy in unspecified era of 1900s. Marcello and Braucci's adapted script has a rich look of its characters, mostly of Martin, therefore every step is satisfying since the picture gets drawn bigger and bigger. The cast also works well and Marinelli is undoubtably showing off his leading man charisma that he showed promise of in 'The Old Guard' earlier, this film particularly comes alive in his eyes rather than in any over-performed period eccentricities.
Production design from Roberto De Angelis and Luca Servino also set up the director and actors for victory as the frame is always an interesting playground to revel in, no matter if it's the fashionable decor of houses owned by upper class or the modest rooms in which Martin writes in. That work is always telling you more about the class struggle in the story, it also works in tandem with time warping musical beats during the transitions. The few minor flaws about the film might be more caused by the knowledge of the source material (very much regarding Martin) and how Marcello's director vision ends up overpowering the writing. Specifically the ending where the choices about the shots and Martin's actions seem overly stylised considering how his journey plays out, the overall story is much more real and tragic than the filmmaking which takes a romantic, slightly passive approach.
Smileys: Production design, screenplay, Luca Marinelli
Frowneys: Minor issues with ending
Martin, please, shaken not sure at the end.