Riven with strife - war and political intrigue, lust, revenge, cannibalism, you name it - Titus Andronicus has always scared off film-makers. You suspect the play's twisted illogic and ignominious reputation have been a more significant disincentive than the violence. Best known for her fantastic staging of Disney's The Lion King, Taymor has bitten the bullet. Her Titus shirks nothing, rather it bombards us with great gobs of conceit - like the time travelling child who witnesses the infamy unfold. Then there's the production design which places pinball games and classic convertibles in Ancient Rome; and when Lavinia is raped and dismembered, Taymor gives her twigs for hands like a refugee from a nightmare fairytale. It's tasteless, maybe, but very much alive. Even when the film feels silly or embarrassing, sheer creative brio carries it through. Hopkins is a magnificent Titus, his pride humbled more devastatingly than Lear's. He gets gutsy support from Lange's Goth queen Tamora, and Lennix, as her manservant Aaron, a scheming manipulator on a par with Iago and Richard III. Boldly imagined and brimming with passion, this is a striking addition to the Shakespeare filmography.
Cast and crew
Jonathan Rhys Meyers