Coriolanus

Film

Period and swashbuckler films

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Feb 15 2011

Long ranked as one of the least accessible entries in the Shakespearean canon, ‘Coriolanus’ arrives on the big screen for the first time in this ferocious twenty-first-century interpretation marking Ralph Fiennes’s directorial debut. While the play’s saga of political leadership at odds with the populace is set in Roman times, the film unfolds in a modern city still called Rome, but shot in Belgrade and drawing on the visual iconography of recent Balkan conflicts – all grey combat fatigues, suffering civilians and rolling satellite news. As always, when the Bard’s transposed in such a way, the game is partly about how far the makers can push the modernity, yet thanks to ‘The Aviator’ screenwriter John Logan’s guiding hand, the smartphone-shot assassinations and audience-baiting TV debates stay on the agreeably witty side of incongruous.

The key, though, is that the themes still feel relevant: Fiennes’s eponymous general is just the man to save the city from Gerard Butler’s Aufidius and his Volscian assault force, yet clearly not equipped to deal with the political machinations of peacetime. Coriolanus may be driven by noble ideals, but he regards the public with barely concealed patrician scorn. As such, this isn’t a piece to warm to, but Fiennes the performer attacks it with such vivid urgency we reluctantly forgo a certain emotional resonance. As a director, he doesn’t quite pull off the faux-Paul Greengrass vérité of the modern urban warfare sequences (even with Greengrass and Loach cameraman Barry Ackroyd on hand), but he knows when to keep it simple and let the actors rip. Vanessa Redgrave is staggering as Coriolanus’s she-wolf of a mother, Brian Cox effortlessly oleaginous as a scheming politico, and Fiennes is in spittingly intense form. A committed and worthwhile celluloid version of a play so few of us really know.

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Release details

UK release:

Fri Jan 20, 2012

Duration:

122 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

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LiveReviews|16
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WPW

Poor Maria. If you cannot understand the reviews, then you will certainly not understand the film. If you only watched 15 minutes you are not really in a position to make a judgement either of the acting or the film.

WPW

Poor Maria. If you cannot understand the reviews, then you will certainly not understand the film. If you only watched 15 minutes you are not really in a position to make a judgement either of the acting or the film.

Technoguy

Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut shows real promise.His acting is the centerpiece of the pumped up rhetoric of the violent aristocrat,Coriolanus.He has pulled off the impossible: to update to modern(Balkan) times,Shakespeare’s best Roman play and last tragedy,by retaining the Shakespearean language,set in a grimy,modern cityscape ridden with graffiti,rubble and the grey pall of deprivation.Showing chilly contempt for the unwashed masses upon whom his consulship depends.He is driven from Rome and joins forces with Aufidius(Butler) and marches on Rome out of revenge. Energy is at boiling point with images of a scarlet-faced Coriolanus,�his eye red as would burn Rome�.Aided by an excellent cast,great writing(Logan) and timely setting.His acting is immense(witness the contrast to Spider,where he stripped himself of the rhetoric of acting to become schizophrenic),he is steaming with fury.Coriolanus is a fantastic underdramatised piece full of knotty,complexities of language and imagery.Here we recall the Arab Spring,riots due to food shortages and the background of Iraq and Afghanistan.Akroyd(Hurt Locker) provides cinematography. Stunning.

Technoguy

Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut shows real promise.His acting is the centerpiece of the pumped up rhetoric of the violent aristocrat,Coriolanus.He has pulled off the impossible: to update to modern(Balkan) times,Shakespeare’s best Roman play and last tragedy,by retaining the Shakespearean language,set in a grimy,modern cityscape ridden with graffiti,rubble and the grey pall of deprivation.Showing chilly contempt for the unwashed masses upon whom his consulship depends.He is driven from Rome and joins forces with Aufidius(Butler) and marches on Rome out of revenge. Energy is at boiling point with images of a scarlet-faced Coriolanus,�his eye red as would burn Rome�.Aided by an excellent cast,great writing(Logan) and timely setting.His acting is immense(witness the contrast to Spider,where he stripped himself of the rhetoric of acting to become schizophrenic),he is steaming with fury.Coriolanus is a fantastic underdramatised piece full of knotty,complexities of language and imagery.Here we recall the Arab Spring,riots due to food shortages and the background of Iraq and Afghanistan.Akroyd(Hurt Locker) provides cinematography. Stunning.

DL

EXCELLENT! The movie just came to San Diego this Friday and it was worth the wait. Shakespeare and I have never been great friends, probably due to the sad way it is taught in many high schools here in the US but I have always admired his work and plays. When his stories are told by great actors anyone can get through the language. The cast did an absolutely incredible job telling the story and bravo for casting Vanessa Redgrave as Volumnia, she was superb as always. I highly recommend this film.

DL

EXCELLENT! The movie just came to San Diego this Friday and it was worth the wait. Shakespeare and I have never been great friends, probably due to the sad way it is taught in many high schools here in the US but I have always admired his work and plays. When his stories are told by great actors anyone can get through the language. The cast did an absolutely incredible job telling the story and bravo for casting Vanessa Redgrave as Volumnia, she was superb as always. I highly recommend this film.

Peter Ludbrook

I can only echo most of what has been said by others. An extraordinarily assured piece of cinema, well acted by a very good cast with a sympathetically abridged text. The subject matter does lend itself to a modern treatment and I found it a very gripping experience. Definitely 5 stars.

Peter Ludbrook

I can only echo most of what has been said by others. An extraordinarily assured piece of cinema, well acted by a very good cast with a sympathetically abridged text. The subject matter does lend itself to a modern treatment and I found it a very gripping experience. Definitely 5 stars.

david glowacki

The normal wooden, cardboard cut out style, of acting that is Ralph Fiennes is nowhere to be seen here.Fiennes gives a powerful and consummate performance that grips you by the throat...The mixing of old and contemporary imagery actually works well...It is an easy story to follow and this is intelligent film making with a decent plot and good acting..Terrific 4 stars

MM

How in god's name did this not get a BAFTA nomination? Who in their right mind would judge My Week with Marilyn above this, or Clooney or Oldman as giving performanaces better than Fiennes'? As for Vanessa Redgrave - this is without a shadow of a doubt one of her greatest performances, and when she is not mugging she's the best in the business.

MM

How in god's name did this not get a BAFTA nomination? Who in their right mind would judge My Week with Marilyn above this, or Clooney or Oldman as giving performanaces better than Fiennes'? As for Vanessa Redgrave - this is without a shadow of a doubt one of her greatest performances, and when she is not mugging she's the best in the business.

godfrey hamilton

Rather more engaging than Peter Hall's interpretation (he insisted on the pronunciation 'Cor-EYE-o-lanus') at the NT some years ago, in which Serena McKellen and Greg Hicks did sweaty topless battle in a sort of big sandpit on the Olivier stage, while those of us in the onstage seats (they were the only ones left) tried to look properly interested, well aware that 1100 pairs of eyes were scrutinising us more often than we would have liked. I'd left the play alone until this movie came along, and lawdy, Fiennes is smashing. Butler perhaps less so, tending to lose the language in the depths of his beard and Scots brogue, but butch and hunky enough to make up for it. Vanessa is superbly terrifying, a sort of negative anima in uniform, but what is most pleasing and memorable is to see the gusto with which Fiennes and Butler embrace (literally) the brutal homoerotic - if not indeed homosexual - desire pulsing beneath their final, fatal embrace. Lovely stuff.

godfrey hamilton

Rather more engaging than Peter Hall's interpretation (he insisted on the pronunciation 'Cor-EYE-o-lanus') at the NT some years ago, in which Serena McKellen and Greg Hicks did sweaty topless battle in a sort of big sandpit on the Olivier stage, while those of us in the onstage seats (they were the only ones left) tried to look properly interested, well aware that 1100 pairs of eyes were scrutinising us more often than we would have liked. I'd left the play alone until this movie came along, and lawdy, Fiennes is smashing. Butler perhaps less so, tending to lose the language in the depths of his beard and Scots brogue, but butch and hunky enough to make up for it. Vanessa is superbly terrifying, a sort of negative anima in uniform, but what is most pleasing and memorable is to see the gusto with which Fiennes and Butler embrace (literally) the brutal homoerotic - if not indeed homosexual - desire pulsing beneath their final, fatal embrace. Lovely stuff.

amazing

This was wonderful. Everyone in it is brilliant (loved Brian Cox and Gerard Butler particularly - but Vanessa and James Nesbitt were amazing too), really hope Ralph Feinnes will direct more films (I think he wants to). I also think he's a fantastic stage actor - but problem with stage is you don't get big close-ups of his eyes!

amazing

This was wonderful. Everyone in it is brilliant (loved Brian Cox and Gerard Butler particularly - but Vanessa and James Nesbitt were amazing too), really hope Ralph Feinnes will direct more films (I think he wants to). I also think he's a fantastic stage actor - but problem with stage is you don't get big close-ups of his eyes!

WPW

Coriolanus is a difficult play; this is a first class movie. Ralph Fiennes directs and stars. His performance is outstanding. He is, I think, a better film actor than theatrical. On stage he can seem inanimate; on film, in close-up, we become aware of his eyes, which are the main tools of his talent. He is perfectly cast as Coriolanus. This is a tragic figure for whom honesty, both emotional and intellectual, is a weakness. He is not particularly sympathetically portrayed here, and yet the “lonely dragon� does garner our pity, as he surely must for the play to work, and this is due to Fiennes’s uncanny combination of fragility and brutality. This same quality I think gave weight to his part in Schindler’s List, in which, although he plays a monstrous character, he is not wholly monstrous, to the extent that we rather chillingly recognise him as human. The supporting cast is equally good; even Vanessa Redgrave fails to irritate as Volumnia, and indeed the penultimate scene with Fiennes is riveting and bravely long (John Logan, screenwriter, producer and progenitor of the affair, has remained on the whole faithful to Shakespeare, and he and Fiennes have been unafraid to keep in what is central - but this is emphatically a movie, nonetheless). Brian Cox, as usual, is first rate and Gerard Butler looks very much the part as Coriolanus’s rival Aufidius, bravehearting his tattooed crew in his native Scottish accent. At any moment I expected him to declare “This is GLASGOW!� Actually, the film is set in the recently-contemporary Balkans, and uses mock newsreel footage and Sky Newsflashes. The former works, the latter doesn’t, the sight of Channel 4 Newsreader Jon Snow speaking Shakespeare raising an unhelpful giggle rather than adding any verisimilitude. However, more than making up for this is the visual geography: a scarred, unfamiliar landscape. This is a world in which brute force thrives – in which, sometimes, it is morally necessary – and in which the sight of the warrior “sweating compassion� is therefore all the more telling. Coriolanus is an undeservedly underperformed play. It is Shakespeare’s most overtly political, and provides perfect counterpoint to Julius Caesar (Caesar, unlike Coriolanus, having no principled scruples when it comes to loving the mob). Is Coriolanus a good man? Yes and no. Is Coriolanus a good film? Assuredly yes. Highly recommended.