Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Movie Review: Coriolanus

Everyone knows Shakespeare's big titles - Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth - but there's a few titles you just never hear of. Things like "A Lover's Complaint", "Troilus and Cressida", "Cymbeline", and "Coriolanus". Oh, I'm sure I'd heard of them before. But they're such minor works that they never stuck in my mind. More's the pity when it comes to the latter.

Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in this, believe it or not, Shakespearean action movie. Caius Marcius Coriolanus was a great military leader with little regard for the common people of Rome. After returning home he was nominated as a consul. He did not want the job, but was pressured into campaigning for it. The people he sneered at before don't take to this new face he's put on. For some reason, the alternative to being consul is death. They compromise with banishment. He leaves to join the armies of his greatest enemy and fight against Rome, leading them in a series of successful battles.

Of course, this is all done in a modern setting. Reports from the front come in along satellite vid-phones. Fidelis TV reports on the fighting. Swords and spears are replaced with guns and tanks. There's no shortage of action sequences, most of which I'm not seeing in the original play [here].

All in all, I found this adaptation to be well done. And by well done I mean that I could tell what the fuck was going on. Oh, sure, there's a couple of monologues late in the movie that left me befuddled. After an hour and a half of parsing Shakespeare my mind couldn't handle the wall of words, the monologue, that some characters spilled forth. But for the most part there was action and reaction shots to break up the dialog so my mental buffer could clear.

I'm glad that I saw it. It really was a good movie. It would go well on my shelf next to the production of "Hamlet" with Patrick Stewart and David Tennant. I'll likely buy a copy, eventually.

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