Get a personalised letter from Santa

Review: Coriolanus

PUBLISHED: 16:49 20 January 2012

Ralph Fiennes & Vanessa Redgrave (Volumnia)

Ralph Fiennes & Vanessa Redgrave (Volumnia)

© 2009 Lions Gate Films Inc. All Rights Reserved

Coriolanus (15.) Directed by Ralph Fiennes. Starring Ralph Fiennes, Gerald Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox, Jessica Chastain, James Nesbitt. 123 Mins ***

For his directorial debut Fiennes has decided to do one of the more obscure Shakespeares, one for the completists. I like that because it means that this is that rare Shakespeare where I’m not the only person in the audience who doesn’t know what is going to happen. It is very fine piece of filmmaking and, to my inexpert eyes, a very fine Shakespeare production though the two halves never quite come to an understanding.

Caius Martius (Fiennes) is the outstanding Roman warrior of his time but he is also brusque, haughty and openly dismissive of the common people. When, on his mother’s (Redgrave) promptings he seeks political office he refuses to play the game and curb his forthright opinions: he’s a fascist but hey, at least he’s honest about it. Everywhere he goes he finds himself harangued by the same select rent-a-mob and eventually it gets the better of him.

Fiennes sets this tale of treachery and ancient Roman political duplicity in modern day Serbia and works hard at making it cinematic. Although it’s altogether far more sombre, there’s just as much zest and invention as in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo+Juliet. A closer parallel though might be Sir Ian McKellen’s Nazi version of Richard III.

It’s a bloody, vibrant vision. Fiennes is outstanding as the man who will become Coriolanus, staring out like a psychotic, distressed Womble. A lot of his dialogue is erudite cumonthens and lezbeavingyas which make his resemble a Danny Dyer who’s swallowed a Thesaurus.

The film is shot like it is news footage with people in the crowd straining to record events on their iPhones. The more the film tries to make Shakespeare cutting edge and relevant, the more dry and academic it becomes. The delivery has been moulded to seem more like contemporary speech. But then just as a riot is about to erupt suddenly everything will stop for someone to delivery a soliloquy. The film is dressed up in combat gear that ultimately it can’t quite fill.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Stories

Yesterday, 17:22

England boss Gareth Southgate has hailed Harry Kane after the Spurs forward grabbed a late winner to send the impressive Three Lions through to the UEFA Nations League finals.

Yesterday, 16:15

England hosted Croatia at Wembley in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday. Read on for Layth Yousif’s match report.

Yesterday, 16:09

Arsenal maintained their 100 per cent FA WSL record with a 4-0 win over Everton in Southport.

Yesterday, 15:58

England hosted Croatia at Wembley in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday. Read on for Layth Yousif’s PLAYER RATINGS

Yesterday, 15:51

Hendon made their longest ever League trip, to Tiverton on Saturday, and returned to London with a point from a goalless stalemate.

Yesterday, 13:01

Wingate & Finchley endured a frustrating afternoon at Nyewood Lane after slipping to defeat to Bognor Regis Town – despite twice taking the lead either side of the break.

Yesterday, 10:48

Arsenal want to be part of any discussions on a future European Super League, but deny they would break away from the Premier League it a new competition comes to fruition.

Yesterday, 10:31

Great Britain’s women were defeated 2-0 by Australia in their second match at the FIH Women’s Champions Trophy in China.

Most read Hampstead & Highgate etcetera

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now