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June 27, 2012

Movie Review: Coriolanus (2011)

Directed by Ralph Fiennes

Starring Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler and Brain Cox
Coriolanus is a film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy which goes by the same title. Its basically a centuries old tale which is retold in a modern setting of a ficticious geopolitical Roman Empire. Our main character, Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes), is a hero of Rome and the states greatest and most feared military warrior. Although praised for his efforts in combat, he has a poor reputation amung the citizens, they dont like or trust him and he feels the same about everyone else. Eventually his extreme views ignite mass rioting in the streets. Manipulated and out-maneuvered by politicians and even his own mother Volumnia (played by Vanessa Redgrave), Coriolanus is eventually banished from Rome. Soon thereafter he offers his services to his sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler), as he vows vengeance against the state which betrayed him. At Tullus’ side they quickly march towards Rome as Roman politicains scramble in an attempt to stop the eventual toppling of their empire by their own ex-patriot.


If you are a fan of William Shakespeare’s works, I dont see why you wouldnt enjoy this modern twist on the story. The acting is solid all the way around and Ralf Fiennes should be commended on his directing and acting in the lead role. The story stays very true to its roots, but at times that seemed to be a bit of a hinderance, trying to meld centuries old politics with a modern day political landscape often came across as a bit unrealistic.

It is a great classic story, but personally I found it a bit difficult to keep up with at times. All the dialog is in old world English, and if you are like me and are not all that familiar with or accustomed to hearing people speak in that particular style of the dialect it can be a daunting task just understanding the simplest of sentences. And when the actors would go into long monologues (which happened quite frequently), for me it felt like I was listening to Hebrew or Latin....nothing like culture to make a hillbilly feel like a fucking dumb ass. After about 20 minutes I decided to just ignore the dialogs and focus on the visuals of the story. And there was enough there to keep even somebody like me from getting completely lost. The actors did such a great job conveying their emotional states that you really didnt need to understand everything they were saying to know what they were feeling. And thank Christ for that, otherwise I would have been a goner.

This isn't going to be a movie that everyone will love. By modern film making standards, it's pretty straightforward, without the twists and turns and surprise endings we have become accustomed to in modern movie making. But it's still a good story with solid performances, so I guess if you're the kind of person who reads William Shakespeare for fun, then this is definitely gonna be your kind of movie.

7 out of 10

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