The citizens of Rome are hungry. Coriolanus, the hero of Rome, a great soldier and a man of inflexible self-belief despises the people. His extreme views ignite a mass riot. Rome is bloody. Manipulated and out-maneuvered by politicians and even his own mother Volumnia, Coriolanus is banished from Rome. He offers his life or his services to his sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius
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A true breath of fresh air, Coriolanus serves as a modernizing of the classic Shakespeare work in very much the same vein as that of the DiCaprio Romeo & Juliet. Where Coriolanus succeeds aside from that feature however, is in contrasting the writer's romance with bitter betrayal, internal combustion and fury and with that of his frailty and humanity. Sure, it takes about an act to get used to the dialogue and mannerisms that take place in an otherwise modern setting, but any jarring effect that takes place soon dissipates into the wonderful characters that sooner speak with their heart than their tongue.
Being a solid fan of Shakespeare, open to interpreting his works and placing them in a modern context, and intrigued with inventive uses of cinematography, for me this striking film was a 'can't miss.' First of all, if you can't deal with the Bard's marvelous use of the English language of his time, then for God's sake, don't COMPLAIN about it! Just go back to your comic books, or whatever...I found it not at all difficult to follow the dialogue or the plot, despite the fact that I had never read this play. The time period seems to be either the present or the near future, and the director makes powerful use of the device of interspersing live action with media/videotaped versions of events. This lends an immediacy to the action that is a useful foil to merely seeing a filmed stage play. Ralph Fiennes is superb in his role--which is even more remarkable when you see in the credits that he Directed and Produced it as well. He brings the necessary fierceness and blind pride that his character demands. Vanessa Redgrave is the second most powerful actor, revealing the mixture of cunning and genuine love that drives the plotline. The first half of the film has a good deal of raw and bloody violence, bad for a child but what the story calls for. While the setting for the film remains that of the play, Rome and its environs, the viewer knows that is not what we are seeing. It is both vaguely familiar, but frustratingly not so. Some clues made me think of the recent strife in the Balkans, and sure enough, this was made in Serbia, with many Serbian individuals involved with making the film. Those recent conflicts based on ancient rivalries but with confusing and curious causes for a renewal of violence provides a meaningful parallel with Shakespeare's presentation of essentially meaningless warfare. This is a striking film and deserving of a much wider audience.
It is sad when a movie like this comes along and it could be something but turns into a sub-par movie. It was not horrible but it was difficult at times to understand what was being said because of the British accents and terminology that is being used. Ralph Fiennes in my opinion will always be viewed as Lord Voldemort. Every time that I turned away from the screen I thought that I was watching Harry Potter. Gerard Butler is the leader of the rebels yet he turns into a subservient dog to Ralph Fiennes. 300 definitely came to mind while watching this as well. At the end of the movie it was a shame to see the once fearless Ralph Fiennes turn into a crying, whimpering coward who gets what he deserves for selling out for peace. 4/10