William Shakespeare wrote a lot of plays, but the same few are picked for adaptation to the silver screen. We’ve seen Hamlet a million times, Romeo and Juliet gets made every decade or so. Even Julius Creaser seems to be a favorite. But outside of some TV presentations, Coriolanus has never been on the big screen, until Ralph Fiennes helmed his version.
Caius Martius (Ralph Fiennes) is a modern soldier in a country that calls itself Rome. His duty is to the aristocratic senate. He is a ruthless man, confident in his abilities, and scornful of anyone who does not measure up to his standards. But Martius is as good as he claims, and soon defeats Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) and his army of Volscians in the city of Corioles. After his amazing victory Martius is given the title Coriolanus, and asked to stand as consul.
Unfortunately he has many political enemies, and they know just how to play him. Soon Coriolanus finds himself the object of scorn and hate by the people of Rome, no matter how valiant he is in battle. He spurns the advice of his mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave), his wife Virgilia (Jessica Chastain) and an old friend and senator Menenius (Brian Cox). After an eruption of hateful speech Coriolanus is banished from Rome. But the man is not broken, not even close. He seeks out his enemy Tullus and joins forces with the Volscians. Coriolanus has a new goal in life, to watch Rome and all her people burn.
- The setting of the play is effectively modernized
- Includes powerful performances by Fiennes and Redgrave
- Moves at a brisk pace
- Not much of a catharsis for a very unlikable lead character
- The musical score is distracting at times
- Purists will not appreciate the edits and modernization of the play
A really admirable effort all told. It feels and moves like a war film in the first half, and then turns into a dark character study in the second half. The surreal dialogue dealing with ancient Rome merges with some really clever modernizations of the setting. The performances are all passionate and powerful Even Gerard Butler (who I can take or leave on most occasions) was really good. My issues with the character come from the play itself, not the performances. Coriolanus is not a sympathetic man at all. But in a way, that is the whole point. If you don’t mind your Shakespeare being modernized and edited, this is a very good adaptation.
Scores (out of 5)
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