13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Coriolanus: Excellent rendition of Shakespeare for the modern age,
This review is from: Coriolanus [DVD]  (DVD)
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After having had the displeasure of sitting through Romeo + Juliet (not one of my favourite plays to start with) I have always approached Shakespeare for the modern age with a degree of caution and trepidation. Fortunately this magnificent effort is several orders of magnitude better, and Ralph Fiennes has done a sterling job of adapting one of the lesser known plays for the screen.
Coriolanus is a tale of pride and ambition. Ralph plays the Roman general Caius Martius, named Coriolanus by a grateful senate for his defeat of the Volscians and capture of the city of Corioles. Soon he is standing for the position of Consul, which would bring much honour, but the proud and noble man is dismissive of the general populace, who turn against him and in shame he is driven from Rome. He travels to the heartland of his Volscian enemies and is soon marching at the head of their army against Rome itself.
Ralph Fiennes both directs and stars in this excellent adaptation. I have not seen the play previously, so cannot comment on the faithfulness of the text. But the setting is a triumph. Updated to a modern Italy at war with a Balkan state, this has a feel of immediacy and relevance. The modern look sits well with the sixteenth century dialogue, which is easy to follow and well enunciated. The use of framing devices, such as TV interviews, is a stroke of genius and I have to say that the sight of Jon Snow spouting Shakespearian dialogue with aplomb was an unexpected and welcome surprise. The setting and the devices used are totally fitting to the play and allow us to see the central message - the consequence of pride - clearly. It also makes the play accessible to people who are more used to big thrill cinema and war films, and not so fussed by sixteenth century tragedies.
Along with Ralph Fiennes there is fine support from Gerard Butler as his sworn enemy, Brian Cox as a wily politician, Jessica Chastain as Coriolanus' wife and James Nesbitt as another politician. Vanessa Redgrave takes the prize as Martius' mother, pushing him in order to fulfil her own ambition. Many of the parts and extras are played by people from the Balkans, giving this an even more authentic air.
It's a bold concept - a little known play, and a modern setting. But it works very well, and I have to give this fine film 5 stars.