Pietro Marcello directs Luca Marinelli, Jessica Cressy and Vincenzo Nemolato in this Italian dramatic adaptation of Jack London’s novel about an uneducated worker who becomes a struggling writer.
What a fantastic lead performance by Luca Marinelli. He anchors this story of love, ambition, politics and poverty with a star-making turn equal to Brando in Streetcar or De Niro in Taxi Driver. He suits this sensual but cruel world, we share in his stubborn, often amusingly curt, rejection of compromise and patronage. Marinelli’s decade spanning exploration takes place in a vague 20th century Naples. Some of the technology is quite modern, some of the fashions and politics feel like they belong in a forgotten past. Old footage is colourised or recreated as mood setting flashbacks and visual representations of Martin’s personal writings. These sequences are spellbinding. This temporal vagueness helps you get lost in the story… though there is a jerky leap forward in time and fortune at the start of the third act that disorientates. The conclusion seems to be aiming for the artier and the metaphorical… the kind of unspoken desolation of decadence that Fellini or Antonioni or Kubrick aim for. I’m not sure I entirely picked apart the closing moments true narrative import, though the sense of fatalism they evoke is definitive. I look forward to rewatching them.
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