Italian painter-turned-director Pietro Marcello’s floating adaptation of Jack London’s eponymous, semi-autobiographical 1909 novel—not a veritable classic, but a somewhat arcane exemplar beloved by various cultural luminaries—stumbles as does its titular protagonist, the strapping young sailor Martin Eden (Luca Marinelli); both are metamorphosed and burdened by their respective creators’ visionary appetites. Marcello, who cowrote the script with Maurizio Braucci, relocates the story from Oakland to Naples, the exact era indeterminate. Born into a working-class milieu, Martin turns to writing after he meets the beautiful, wealthy Elena (Jessica Cressy), having been galvanized to pursue education as a means of elevating himself above his proletarian station. This motley Künstlerroman charts Martin’s onerous rise and existential fall as he grapples with his desire for individualism (inspired by the teachings of English sociologist Herbert Spencer) amidst his countrymen’s—and to some extent, his own—thirst for social equality. The complex political ethos is absorbing, but it’s Marcello’s formal experimentation that commands. Throughlines from the director’s previous films are present, specifically his clever use of archival footage to complement narrative; combined with the variety of film formats employed (primarily 16-millimeter and Super 16-millimeter, though also some 35-millimeter and expired film stock) and his subtle use of unfixed anachronisms, the film is a living history of its quixotic, though ultimately disaffected, protagonist. In Italian, Neapolitan, and French with subtitles.