Coriolanus (15)



Drama (2011)
123mins UK

Starring: Ashraf Barhom, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, James Nesbitt, Jessica Chastain, Ralph Fiennes
Director: Ralph Fiennes
Writer(s): John Logan, William Shakespeare
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Cominius, the proud General of the Roman army, and his deputy Martius leads their troops into battle against Tullus Aufidius, commander of the rival Volscian army. Such is Martius's bravery in the line of action, he is awarded the family name of Coriolanus and he runs for the consul. The Roman Senate beckons but two tribunes, Brutus and Sicinius, scheme against Coriolanus, determined to turn the people against their hero.

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LondonNet Film Review
Corolianus

The dogs of modern warfare - tanks, helicopters and heavily armed soldiers - are let loose on a deeply divided Rome in Coriolanus, a refreshing re-interpretation of Shakespeare's brutal and overlooked tragedy...

Caius Martius Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes), Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave), General Cominius (John Kani), Menenius (Brian Cox) and Virgilia (Jessica Chastain) in Coriolanus. © 2009 Lions Gate Films Inc. All Rights Reserved Director Ralph Fiennes, who also assumes the title role, works closely with cinematographer Barry Ackroyd to replicate the juddering handheld camerawork of 24-hour news channels. Journalist and presenter Jon Snow even cameos, reporting on the devastation following an assault on the Volscian town of Corioles. Parallels to shocking scenes of recent conflict are inescapable and Fiennes uses his stylistic conceit to good effect, replete with headlines scrolling across the screen that allow screenwriter John Logan to pare down the Bard's text to a manageable two hours. While the film version of Coriolanus looks the part, the iambic pentameter doesn't lay waste to our emotions as we expect and performances are variable from Vanessa Redgrave's scene-stealing turn as a manipulative matriarch to Gerard Butler's bombastic but soulless embodiment of a military leader.

While Cominius (John Kani), the proud General of the Roman army, leads his troops into battle against Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler), commander of the rival Volscian army, Cominius's feared deputy, Caius Martius (Fiennes), spearheads an assault on one of the Volscian strongholds. Eventually, the enemy capitulates and Martius returns home a hero. Such is Martius's bravery in the line of action, he is awarded the family name of Coriolanus and he is persuaded to run for the consul. With Coriolanus's controlling mother, Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave), pulling the string, the soldier's quiet wife Virgilia (Jessica Chastain) is powerless to change her husband's course. Roman senator Menenius (Brian Cox) advances Coriolanus's bid for the political spotlight but constantly has to remind his friend about tactfulness in front of the public. The Senate beckons but two Roman tribunes, Brutus (Paul Jesson) and Sicinius (James Nesbitt), scheme against Coriolanus. Just as quickly as they anointed Coriolanus their saviour, the baying masses turn against their hero. He retaliates by seeking out his mortal enemy Tullus Aufidius and forges an unholy alliance to destroy Rome.

Caius Martius Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes) in Coriolanus. © 2009 Lions Gate Films Inc. All Rights ReservedCoriolanus relies on Fiennes's energy in front of and behind the camera and he anchors the film with a brooding and intense performance. Chastain, who has enjoyed an amazing 12 months with strong performances in The Tree Of Life, The Debt and The Help, is poorly served by the script but her character doesn't make much of an impact in the Bard's original verse. Cox and Redgrave orbit the titular hero with steely resolve, realising perhaps too late that they cannot completely control a man who looks down on the great unwashed with disdain. After the impressive opening frames, Fiennes's film becomes more intimate and adheres closer to stage productions, hoping - sometimes in vain - the fire in the characters' bellies will ignite our interest.

- Kim Hu


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