Sunday, February 19, 2012


Yesterday I saw the movie version of Coriolanus directed by & starring Ralph Fiennes. The movie does a good job updating the story to the modern day, relocating it to a war-torn, multi-ethnic country in Eastern Europe. The Volsces, hiding out in primitve secret quarters, are like a rebel army in the Middle East. Their chair of state is a salvaged barber's seat. The movie is gory & looks like a first-person shooter game in the early war scenes. Much is made of the exhausting hand-to-hand combat between Coriolanus & Aufidius. The movie likes to imply a sexual tension between the two. The story is told clearly, but Shakespeare's text has been mercilessly cut, & there are a lot of significant silences & long stretches with no dialogue.

Mr. Fiennes plays Coriolanus as a brutalized soldier, with a permanent expression of contempt. Brian Cox, as Meninius, Coriolanus's old mentor, gives a naturalistic performance. His character is perhaps more benign than in the text, & he is given a death by suicide. Gerard Butler as Aufidius is a convincingly self-assured & business-like soldier. Vanessa Redgrave is miscast, seeming too old & feeble in the role of the ambitious Volumnnia. I liked the scenes with the tribunes Sicinius & Brutus, depicted as a pair of smug bureaucratic weasels.

§ Coriolanus (2011)
Director: Ralph Fiennes
122 min, UK

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