Top

film

Stories

 

Coriolanus

Updating Shakespeare seems doubly condescending, the implication being that we need help in relating to the text, and that the text needs to be made relevant. In the case of Ralph Fiennes's adaptation of Coriolanus—a knotty tragedy about a warrior who refuses to kowtow to the perceived inferiors who control his fate—the transposition to present day is confusing and counterproductive, dulling the impact of an otherwise fierce, often unbearably immediate production. (However remote Rome in the fifth century BC might be, it can't be as disorienting as a modern urban sniper fight that culminates in a mano-a-mano, "Beat It"–style blade tussle.) What saves the film is actor Fiennes's steadfastness to the character of Caius Martius Coriolanus, an irreducible anti-hero balancing a defiant integrity with damning pride. Fiennes doesn't understate the general's monstrosity—he sports frightful facial scars and barks at commoners through exaggeratedly pursed lips—but his physicality complements rather than obscures the Bard's blunt dialogue. ("Make you a sword of me." "Anger's my meat.") As blood rival Tullus Aufidius, Gerard Butler's all surface, a beard with a Scottish brogue, leaving Brian Cox and Vanessa Redgrave to remind us how it's done. They make every line seem personally conceived, surprising yet inevitable, and in the process reaffirm that exquisitely articulated words are where the drama is.

 
My Voice Nation Help
4 comments
Atgardner
Atgardner

This is the great ruse of phonies like Eric Hynes, you act as though your critizisms are so obvious and self-evident that you need not back them up and explain them, and if you don't agree or get what the problem is, then you just aren't smart enough

Exredleg
Exredleg

This Coriolanus is a brilliant adaptation overall, it seems to me. Eric Hynes, the reviewer here, is alert to condescension, but too much of that will destroy a person's ability to enjoy any art. This film, like good theatre, uses mise en scene to enhance and support the text, not to supplant it.

Troydr
Troydr

I love Formereader's comment, but it would hold more water if the Voice wasn't always right.

Formereader
Formereader

It's a damned good thing we have you folks at the Voice to remind us that we're too smart and too cool to think ANYTHING is good. Did you all arrest when you were 15? And guess what? Even the 15 year olds see through your faux intellectualism. It's over, unless you can grow up and open up. In the meanwhile, I need not read anything more from you, as it's all utterly predictable.

 

Now Showing

Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

Box Office Report

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!

Loading...