Coriolanus

A masterpiece
Coriolanus
Cinema’s take on Shakespeare has been mixed; either movies so timid in interpretation that we're left with a filmed recital, or ‘new takes’ so misguided that they evade the Bard’s magic entirely. Arguably a ‘lesser’ Shakespeare, this Coriolanus is a masterpiece, as tragic as any RSC production, more nuanced than any contemporary movie.

Acting is poetry in this grim, imaginary, quasi-Eastern Bloc Rome, where the successful savage general Coriolanus defeats every foe save peace and populism. Fiennes excels, that we pity this battle-scarred brute when he roars like a bear with toothache is testament to his extraordinary ability. Gerard Butler astonishes, drawing on previously hidden reserves of frailty as Tullus Aufidius. But it’s Vanessa Redgrave who shines brightest as Coriolanus’ controlling mother, in her this five-hundred-year-old language soars while still rooted in timeless emotions: pride, love, consuming zeal.

The direction, however, is the star. Is it war on trial here, these battles that shock and awe us? Or is it democracy, the heartless, fickle mob whom Coriolanus openly disdains? Fiennes allows us to loathe each. By the finale it is the world itself we despise, a hideous lair where words become monsters, and the only sick honour is in death.

9/10

Words by COLM FIELD


CORIOLANUS
DIRECTOR RALPH FIENNES
RELEASED JANUARY 20th
CERT 12 LIONSGATE


Have your say

Sign in or Register to leave comments
-