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The classic legend of honor and betrayal has been astonishingly re-imagined in this exhilarating action thriller that wields a profound relevance for today. Caius Martius 'Coriolanus' (star and director Ralph Fiennes) is a feared and revered Roman General, suddenly pitted against his own city and fellow citizens. Rebelling against the power-hungry designs of his manipulative mother (Vanessa Redgrave) and rejected by his own people, Coriolanus incites a riot that expels him from Rome. The banished hero joins forces with his sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) to exact his revenge -- and determine his destiny.
Actor-director Ralph Fiennes may not appreciate the comparison, but his modern-dress version of Coriolanus sometimes plays like William Shakespeare by way of Fight Club. In this case, Volscian leader Aufidius (Gerald Butler, nicely understated) plays the Tyler Durden role in that his character doubles as a living conscience. Fiennes's bullet-headed, battle-scarred General Caius Martius may be willing to put his life on the line for his people, but he has no interest in actually listening to their concerns, a development that anticipates the Occupy movement. As Rome's food supply dwindles and rioting begins, Martius suspends civil liberties, and heads off to battle against a man he both despises and admires (and Fiennes doesn't shy away from intimations of same-sex attraction). In the script by Gladiator's John Logan, automatic weaponry replaces swords, contributing to an especially visceral Shakespearean adaptation (Hurt Locker cinematographer Barry Ackroyd's handheld camera work reinforces the rough-hewn quality). At home, Martius's wary wife (Jessica Chastain) and proud mother (Vanessa Redgrave) fear for his life, while his most ardent supporter, Senator Menenius (Brian Cox, excellent), defends him against his detractors, like Tribune Sicinius (James Nesbitt). Though successful on the battlefield, the political neophyte--now known as Coriolanus--soon finds himself an exile, eventually aligning with Aufidius, but what looks like a turncoat move proves more complicated. If Martius starts out as a Fiennes villain in the vein of Amon Goeth, he gradually transforms from a monster into a man. Too bad politics favors the less complicated types. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Top Customer Reviews
Fiennes is very, very good in this. His intensity blazes throughout, as a soldier's soldier and a man with little to connect him to the people outside of his comfort zone--aka the battlefield.
Vanessa Redgrave is, as always, compelling as Volumnia. She will definitely be up for some awards for this performance.
Just to comment on the first post made--
This movie is nothing at all like Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet. Luhrmann's film was Shakespeare on acid [i very much liked that film as well]. This is something completely different. Simply labeling it 'a grown up R&J' does a disservice to Coriolanus. Just because it's modernized doesn't make it similar, at all.
It is Shakespeare, so for the first few minutes while you're getting used to the language it will throw you off. But the actors are so skilled in this film they make sense of the text for you, so you can understand and enjoy the use of Shakespeare's language. There are some wonderful soliloquies in the movie as well. If you don't like Shakespeare or you don't want to pay attention, don't see it, simple as that.
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