The Young Karl Marx

Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck, emboldened by his success at bringing James Baldwin’s prose to life with the documentary I Am Not Your Negro (2016), tackles a more difficult literary endeavor: dramatizing the life experiences that drove Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to write the Communist Manifesto in 1848. This intelligent biopic touches on the men’s marriages but focuses mainly on the various radical constituencies across Europe that they hoped to unite with a powerful philosophical statement. August Diehl, best known here for his small role in Inglourious Basterds (2009), invests the twentysomething Marx with a quick mind and a feverish impatience that propel the narrative forward, his energy a real asset to a film that trades heavily in ideas. “Criticism devours everything that exists, and when nothing is left, it devours itself,” the German radical Wilhelm Weitling tells Marx—and yet Peck dares to frame his movie as an intellectual adventure. In English and subtitled French and German.