Martin Eden, dir. Pietro Marcello, Italy 2020, 130 min., Italian with English subtitles, 15
When working-class sailor Martin Eden (Luca Marinelli) finds himself transported into upper-middle-class society after a chance encounter on the Naples docks, he falls near-instantly in love with a young woman named Elena (Jessica Cressy). Introduced to the poetry of Charles Baudelaire by the object of his affections, the young man decides he needs to give himself an education, reshape himself into a writer – and redefine the essence of who, and what, he is.
The second feature from Italian director Pietro Marcello brings a Neapolitan setting to Jack London’s Californian novel. Anchored by a brilliant central performance from Marinelli (Don’t Be Bad, They Call Me Jeeg), Martin Eden is a kaleidoscopic blend of drama and archive footage – with an unmistakeably political edge.