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.