“He is a lion that I am proud to hunt.”
Coriolanus is not exactly the first play you think of when you hear the name William Shakespeare, but it does build upon some of his more famous ones. Actor Ralph Fiennes chose it to make his directorial debut and filled the film full of modern sound and fury. The result is a movie not easily forgotten.
A place calling itself Rome. General Marius (Ralph Fiennes) is the leading soldier in a war against Tulius Aufidius (Gerard Butler) and the neighboring Volscians. Marius repels the forces and earns the honorary title of Coriolanus and returns home to his wife Virgilia (Jessica Chastain).
However, his mother Volumia (Vanessa Redgrave) and Senator Menenius (Brian Cox) urge him to run for the office of Consul. The scheming of rivals Brutus (Paul Jesson) and Sicinius (James Nesbitt) push the quick tempered Marius into getting himself banished from Rome.
Marius wanders the countryside until he arrives at Aufidius’ capital and offers him his warlike services to avenge himself on the city of Rome.
“If she says your behavior is heinous, kick her right in the Coriolanus” from Brush up Your Shakespeare from the musical Kiss me Kate. This play is not one that is often produced for the stage, but Fiennes did portray the role and decided that it would be a vehicle for him to make into a movie.
The play does share some characteristics with the likes of Macbeth and Julius Caesar. Fiennes excels in the role. One of the reasons that Coriolanus probably doesn’t get much love from the stage is that the main character isn’t as sympathetic as other Shakespearean characters and is also not prone to putting forth his internal feelings in dialogue.
Coriolanus only knows the battlefield and it’s where he feels at home. Peacetime only brings out his disdain for the commoners, so much so that he’s eventually exiled and forced to return to his best place but this time fighting for his once enemy.
Fiennes surrounds himself with a roster of thespians that are not unfamiliar to Shakespeare, but also fills the film with actors you might not consider Shakespearean. Redgrave especially stands out in a role she said she wasn’t sure she could play in the much-too-short making of. I probably would not have thought of Butler for the bard. Fiennes also masterfully updates the setting, unsettlingly recalling Serbia, while keeping the great dialogue from the master.
Coriolanus is presented in a 1080p transfer (2.35:1). Special features include a commentary from actor/director Fiennes and a too short 5 minute making of in standard definition.
Coriolanus may not be the play thought of when mentioning the bard, and I doubt you’ll see it on the bill when the Shakespeare festival rolls into town. Fiennes knows what he is doing in adapting it. He also surrounds himself with fabulous actors that only add to the grand production. Get thee to the rental queue and take thus a gander.
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