The great virtue of The Young Karl Marx is its clarity, its ability to perceive the way the eddies of personal experience flow within the wider stream of history.
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The film is ironically gripped by the sort of ideological "vagueness" that Krk Marx dismisses throughout.
This immaculately furnished film sacrifices too much drama in order to expound upon its characters’ ideals, and sacrifices too much exploration of those ideals in order to accommodate for a healthy degree of drama.
An intellectually rigorous but stylistically staid peep at the 20-something author of Capital and The Communist Manifesto, Raoul Peck’s The Young Karl Marx is at once historically impeccable and a filmic disappointment.
From its lifelessly anachronistic English dialogue to its Masterpiece Theatre lighting and production design, The Young Karl Marx tries to filter radical thought through the pace and aesthetics of a middlebrow drama.
Whatever else you think about Marx and his ideas, it's hard to imagine him as hot-blooded and young. Director and co-writer Raoul Peck, as it turns out, not only understands those contradictions, he is committed to embracing them, which is what makes The Young Karl Marx the audacious, engrossing film it is.
A spry romp through the seven years leading up to the drafting of the Communist Manifesto, Raoul Peck’s biopic of Karl Marx’s early years feels like a mix between a prestige BBC drama and a Marx For Dummies primer.
It’s dutiful, but it’s also superficial and polite, and it commits the genteel sin of the old biopics: It turns its hero into a plaster saint.
It shouldn’t work, but it does, due to the intelligence of the acting and the stamina and concentration of the writing and directing.
The movie’s plush, cozy aesthetic and unintentionally funny melodrama are at odds with its subjects: revolt, theory, originality, and observation.