Sunday, October 11, 2020

Movie with Abe: Martin Eden

Martin Eden
Directed by Pietro Marcello
Released October 16, 2020 (Virtual Cinemas and Theaters)

There is a humility that often comes with anonymity, a version of impostor syndrome that exists when someone has yet to receive affirmation that the work they are doing is indeed valid or good. A person striving for success is likely to be genuine and honest in that pursuit because they want to prove themselves to be capable of being recognized as intelligent or extraordinary. If that time does come, a person’s level of modesty is put to the test since acclaim and respect can also give way to a loss of values and an erasure of what life was like before anyone knew their name.

Martin Eden (Luca Marinelli) is an affable aspiring writer who, through an act of selfless support for a man in distress, meets the wealthy and educated Elena (Jessica Cressy). She takes a liking to him and helps him to learn the basics of grammar so that his work, which is continually rejected by publishers, can be truly great. Martin’s fortunes force him to take odd jobs to support himself as he continues to write and improve. As his work begins to be embraced, Martin is swayed by new attitudes and unexpected political passions that cause his worldview and interaction with the people in it to be irreversibly altered.

This Italian film is actually adapted from the 1909 novel of the same name by Jack London, transposed from its American location to the European country across the ocean. Its setting adds considerably to the story, which finds Martin walking alongside the water, through piazzas, and towards elegance he hasn’t encountered before throughout the film. It has a vivid and authentic look that helps to keep attention on its protagonist and his pursuits through the world, encountering inspiration along the way that shapes both what he does and what he writes. Billed as a “sweeping romantic epic,” this film does feel like a journey of self-exploration and growth for its title character.

Marinelli was awarded the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice International Film Festival last year, a worthwhile honor that recognizes a committed turn that shows Martin’s progression from eager student to disgruntled revolutionary. This marks only the second narrative feature from director Pietro Marcello, an established Italian documentarian who handles these characters and their stories sensitively and strongly. This film runs just over two hours and covers a good deal of material in that time, immersing viewers in a visually appealing and thoroughly-composed biography of a fictional man representative of many from any given place or time.


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