Sunday, December 11, 2011

Movie with Abe: Coriolanus (Capsule Review)

Directed by Ralph Fiennes
Released December 2, 2011

Shakespeare films are usually made for a certain kind of audience. This adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s least-known works, about a Roman general full of hubris, puts a modern-day spin on the story, outfitting its characters with suits and ties, cell phones and televisions, and cars but keeping in the Shakespearean dialogue. What results is an intriguing visual experiment, presenting an archaic tale as envisioned in an imagined city called Rome that could easily exist in the present day. For the Shakespeare aficionado, it’s likely to be a marvelous delight to see television newscasters speaking Elizabethan English, whereas those less inclined to salivate over the Bard will find it to be a less satisfying experience. The film rarely utilizes any special cinematic techniques, focusing instead on bringing its plot to life, and only occasionally does the camerawork lens its events in a truly invigorating fashion. Ralph Fiennes, behind the camera for the first time, has just the right impatient energy for the title role, and he’s well-matched by Gerard Butler in what can be seen as a rare solid movie choice for him as his sworn enemy. Vanessa Redgrave is sure to be lavished with praise for her passionate performance as the main character’s mother, a lively if not entirely fulfilling turn. Ultimately, “Coriolanus” is an interesting character piece and little more, notable merely for a decent attempt at a modern update.


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