Great Britain/USA
123 minutes

The key problem in any film adaptation/updating of Shakespeare is how to transcend its language: how to overcome the fact that what is being said is often designed to replace that which could not be recreated on stage, and how to make a contemporary cinema audience relate to something whose archaic construction was so obviously meant for being spoken and performed on a theatre. There have been a great many attempts on all points of the quality spectrum; Ralph Fiennes' fiercely intense update of Coriolanus is a more than honourable try, even if no masterpiece.
For his directorial debut, mr. Fiennes and Gladiator screenwriter John Logan transpose the tragedy of Roman general Caius Martius, a consummate warrior with zero diplomacy skills who turns on his city when confronted by venal politicians as a dictator-in-waiting, to a modern-day state that forcefully reminds us of both the Balkans and Iraq, smartly debating the shifting games of power-hungry politicians. Mr. Fiennes, who plays Caius Martius with a a fearsome, almost desperate intensity, eschews all-star dramatics by casting solid character actors rather than film stars (the exception being Scotsman Gerard Butler, who was likely cast for his British theatrical roots rather than his current status as Hollywood action hero); he then gives them room to breathe and create their characters within a political thriller framework, with the divine Vanessa Redgrave all but running away with the film through her regal performance as the ambitious matriarch Volumnia. More solid than outstanding but done with obvious care, it's an intelligent piece that runs the risk of falling into the media limbo most contemporary adaptations of the Bard tend to head to; more's the pity.

Starring Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Brian Cox; and Vanessa Redgrave; Jessica Chastain, Paul Kani, James Nesbitt, Paul Jesson, Lubna Azabal, Ashraf Barhom.
Directed by mr. Fiennes; produced by mr. Fiennes, John Logan, Gabrielle Tana, Julia Taylor-Stanley, Colin Vaines; screenplay by mr. Logan, based on the play by William Shakespeare, Coriolanus; music by Ilan Eshkeri; director of photography (DeLuxe, widescreen), Barry Ackroyd; production designer, Ricky Eyres; costume designer, Bojana Nikitovic; film editor, Nicolas Gaster.
A Hermetof Pictures/Magna Films/Icon Entertainment International presentation, in association with Lipsync Productions and BBC Films, of a Kalkorrie/Artemis Films/Lonely Dragon production, in association with Atlantic Swiss Productions and Magnolia Mae Productions. (World sales, Icon Entertainment International.)
Screened: Berlin Film Festival 2011, official selection advance press screening, Berlinale Palast (Berlin), February 14th 2011. 


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