A really compelling and beautiful movie. I love the cuts to period (and treated/original) clips, not trying to fool anyone by matching footage, just a good mood-setting effect. Martin is a sailor living on a boat. After he stops a security guard from beating on a boy, the boy’s family thanks him with dinner, lends him French books, and in no time he’s hyped over Baudelaire and sweet on their daughter. They’re happy to contribute to this poor soul’s education but the thought that he could become one of them is too much. A few scenes later he’s a pale staggering wreck and successful anti-socialist author heading out on a US tour.
Made more sense than Lost and Beautiful, though it started to feel caught in a historical-literature doomed-love trap. The Jack London book has been filmed about ten times, including once with Glenn Ford, twice in Czech, and a previous six-hour Italian version. Lead actor Luca Marinelli is gonna play the title role in a Diabolik remake. Martin’s sister was in season 4 (!) of the Gomorrah series, and his writer friend Brissenden starred in Stealing Beauty and The Red Violin.
Jordan Cronk in Cinema Scope:
… in freely adapting London’s novel, Marcello and Braucci have fashioned the title character into an emblem of the modern culture industry, whose neoliberal particulars London predicted with startling clarity.