"Le jeune Karl Marx" is a co-production between France, Germany and Belgium that resulted in a German-language movie with some parts in French and English too because of the actors' nationalities, but also because of the countries where the film plays. It runs for almost two hours and as the title already says it focuses on the younger years of German philosopher Karl Marx. The director is Raoul Peck and he is also one of the writers here. I guess his origin and native language is also the main reason (just like other writers' nationalities) why this film is listed in the French language here on IMDb. Peck himself was just nominated for the first time for an Oscar in the documentary category (for a pretty controversial movie) after a filmmaking career of almost 35 years now and this will probably get his future works more attention, maybe also in Hollywood. But now let us take a look at this one here. The cast includes some names that German film buffs will probably recognize, but not too many either, such as Diehl and Scheer. Even Diehl's co-lead Konarske was pretty unknown to me. But he did his job well and held his own nicely next to Diehl, who certainly gives the most commanding performance in the film. It is not a coincidence that this film's name is "The young Karl Marx" and not "The Young Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels".
I have really liked Diehl for a long time now and it's nice to see him add another impressive performance to his body of work. He has been in some strong German films, but also appeared in Hollywood stuff. It is a bit sad that he has not managed yet to get beyond playing Angelina Jolie's character's husband or a Nazi commander in a one-scene performance in a Tarantino movie, even if he managed to be somewhat memorable in these parts too. He seems so natural at what he does and always disappears in character. Makes me a bit sad to see far more limited actors like Schweiger, Brühl, Schweighöfer, maybe even Waltz, get much more attention in Hollywood. But as long as Diehl keeps making films like this one here as well in the future, it's all good. I personally must say that 19th century politics never really interested me at all, back from my school days, but Peck and Diehl and the rest made it not only very watchable, but pretty exciting and interesting. The key to success here may be that the focus was really on the two central characters and their lives (private and public),and did not try oh so hard to make a political impact and be really important and relevant, i.e. full of himself. It is all about the simplicity of a strong story well-told as Frances McDormand said so fittingly. The only reason why I did not give it an even higher rating is probably that I always cared for for 20th century politics, but I learned a lot while watching this one here and that is certainly a strong achievement. The film also never drags during its almost two hours. Any criticisms really? Not that much. I found the song of the closing credits and the scenes not a good choice as the film should have been staying in the 19th century and it did not really fit. Jumping ahead a century in time roughly was too much, even if the scenes of course had a lot to do with communism. As a whole, a pretty good work and everybody who knows and cares about 19th century politics and communism must see it.
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26 year-old Karl Marx embarks with his wife, Jenny, on the road to exile. In 1844 Paris, he meets Friedrich Engels, an industrialist's son, who investigated the sordid birth of the British working-class. Engels, the dandy, provides the last piece of the puzzle to the young Karl Marx's new vision of the world. Together, between censorship and the police's repression, riots and political upheavals, they will lead the labor movement during its development into a modern era.
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