Tuesday, March 6, 2012

No love for the honest man: Coriolanus

Coriolanus, 2011. Directed by Ralph Fiennes
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Brian Cox, Jessica Chastain, Vanessa Redgrave

"A banished hero of Rome allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city." (IMDB).

This is a film for lovers of
-Ralph Fiennes

Lucky, lucky you are if you love all three, because it was quite an amazing production. The violence was gritty and disturbing. The performances (in verse) were beautifully inspiring. Hell, even the location titles (A PLACE CALLING ITSELF ROME, ANTIUM, CORIOLES, etc.) got me a little giddy. It just really came together well, and was actually quite well-suited for a modern adaptation. Colin Covert (Star Tribune) said in his review that Coriolanus (Fiennes) was a hard guy to understand, and used the word "bipolar," and maybe that's fair. But if you're able to see this man for who he truly is----a general who is extremely good at his job but has no desire to kiss ass or self-promote himself and who loves his mother above all else, his actions will make perfect sense. I saw him as a rare, honest, man who refused to play games; clearly, this does not make things easy for him and causes one hell of a lot of upset. Also impossible to ignore in this story is the mother aspect, which is played magnificently between Fiennes and Redgrave---it's pretty powerful. (MOTHER IS THE WORD FOR GOD ON THE HEARTS AND LIPS OF ALL LITTLE CHILDREN) Et, tu, Martius? Yeah, I'm a broken record.

The only real criticism I have is something minor, and more of a silly annoyance for me, personally----there are some hand-held camera segments, very wobbly, very close and jumpy, that are effective in illustrating the chaos and out-of-control feelings being experienced by the characters, but if you're prone to motion sickness or discomfort, just be warned; it gets intense and lasts for quite a while. Mercifully, when these shots end, they are immediately countered by long, wide, empty landscape shots, but the bad parts almost bothered me enough to want to either leave or close my eyes (having felt as though someone just beat the hell out of me while simultaneously slipping me some fast-acting rufies.)

Eye candy: I happen to think Ralph Fiennes is extremely hot, and always have. He's better with hair, and unfortunately he's bald in nearly all of this, but there are some cool, modern segments where his baldness and later, re-shaving of his head along with that ridiculous barber's chair become a sort of initiation to the guys on the other side who eventually wind up following him (at their own general's implied expense). Yeah, and speaking of the other guy? I'd only seen Gerard Butler in that stupid flick he did with J-Aniston, which is a shame, because he's quite decent, and damn, an extremely hot Aufidius. Bonus for accents and tatts.

See? All you have to do to get more people interested in Shakespeare is to get some hot looking actors to sign on. But aesthetics aside, it's very much worth seeing.


Donald said...

I think I would've seen this if it had been a more traditional telling of the play (a play I've never read, mind you, even though I do like Shakespeare). I'm just sick of people transposing Shakespeare to modern time periods.

Actually, that's not fair, since they are often very good. Maybe it's just that a couple weeks ago I netflixed some modern version of Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart and it was the just about the worst movie ever made, so that soured me on this one since they look very similar.

Anna said...

Have you seen the branaugh Hamlet? I'm wondering if it's worth putting on my list. THis just had such a powerful vibe to it, it was like no other adaptation I've seen. I thought the play was awesome, it was the first in the tragedy volume I have, so it's the first one I've read since high school. It's actually pretty short and direct, I'd recommend it highly.

Donald said...

I have. It's a very good film despite the fact that Branaugh was a pretty mediocre Hamlet. But it's a lovely film with a lot of great ideas and performances.

Justin Garrett Blum said...

Does it makes me a complete dunce that I've never even heard of this play?

Anna said...

I hadn't heard of it either, and probably wouldn't have if it wasn't the first one in the book I have. ALthough I would have made a point to see my boy Ralph even not having read it beforehand.

Everything I've seen about it describes it as Shakespeare's least loved play, which I don't get because it's freakin' awesome.

Donald said...

I've heard of it, but never read it.

Donald said...

I'm gonna wait and see the porno version: "Corn Hole Your Anus."