Film Review: Ralph Fiennes Modernizes Shakespeare in ‘Coriolanus’

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CHICAGO – The plays of William Shakespeare, influencing culture and morality for over 400 years, continue to open themselves up to new interpretations and settings. Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in a film version adaptation of “Coriolanus,” set against the modern day machinations of politics and war. Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

This is a sharp and well acted re-imagining of the material, given the costumes and media treatment of today, while maintaining the rhythm and prose poetry that distinguishes Shakespeare. The highlight is the performances, especially the conflicted soul of Ralph Fiennes as the title character, with Vanessa Redgrave adding support and guilt as his mother. Fiennes as director coaxes a dark paranoia out of the story, targeting government in-fighting and homeland deception straight out of this morning’s headlines.

The citizens of Rome are going through a food crisis. Cupboards and stores are bare, and grain reserves are guarded by the army directed by General Martius Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes). The mobs call for his blood, but he protected by a government official named Menenius (Brian Cox). The crisis is interrupted by an invasion by the nearby Volscian Army, led by a Coriolanus rival named Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler).

Coriolanus emerges as the hero of the conflict, ending an battle with a hand-to-hand combat with Aufidius. This turns the tide in Rome, and he is greeted in victory by his mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave) and wife Virgilia (Jessica Chastain). Menenius sponsors the general for a senate seat, which revives some anti-Coriolanus sentiment. His angry retort towards the opposition causes a banishment from the country. Severed tragically from homeland and family, Coriolanus turns to his opponent Aufidius to get revenge on Rome.

“Coriolanus” continues its limited release on January 20th. See local listings for show times and theaters. Featuring Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Jessica Chastain, Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox. Screenplay by John Logan. Directed by Ralph Fiennes. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Coriolanus”

Ralph Fiennes (Coriolanus) and Gerard Butler (Aufidius) in ‘Coriolanus’
Ralph Fiennes (Coriolanus) and Gerard Butler (Aufidius) in ‘Coriolanus’
Photo credit: The Weinstein Company

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Coriolanus”

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