Ralph Fiennes is no stranger to the title role of “Coriolanus,” having played it in 2000 on the London stage at the Almeida Theatre, Gainsborough Studios. Fiennes says he’s been determined to reprise the demanding role on the big screen ever since.’
This is, however, his first foray into directing and one wonders why he chose such a risky subject.
Will mainstream audiences respond to classic Shakespearean dialogue? Perhaps. Will they understand Fiennes’ vision? Perhaps. Especially when played so adroitly by Fiennes in the role of Roman General, Caius Martius Coriolanus and Gerard Butler his fiercest enemy, in a lion-like portrayal of Tullus Aufidius; both with an intense male sexual energy that is rare on screen.
Vanessa Redgrave is mesmerizing as Volumnia, his passionate and ambitious mother, whose every breath is dedicated to her son’s success as leader of the military and eventually as the leader of her beloved country.
The movie opens as the teeming masses, hungry for food and without the means necessary for comfortable lives, storm on the central grand depot of their city of Rome demanding bread. A violent reception awaits them and Coriolanus emerges from the fires of war into the mob followed by his soldiers. They are subdued and he is in ensuing days put forth as leader of this troubled land.
Coriolanus, although a great and fearless warrior is flawed and his weakness, seen in his personal and political struggles eventually causes his downfall and banishment from Rome. Far from over, however, his fall from grace compels us into the film’s more personal and compelling story as the two men, Coriolanus and Aufidius face the ultimate confrontation.
Like two wild animals, they circle and fight with the abandonment of those who have no fear of death. Coriolanus says of Aufidius, “He is a lion I am proud to hunt.” The intense hatred between the two is blurred by future events and in the field of battle. A mutual admiration develops that borders on primal, animalistic love.
The first act of the film may be too overtly bloody and violent for some, but if they persevere, a powerful story ensues.
The film is beautifully crafted, with a credible script adapted from Shakespeare’s original work, striking cinematography from Barry Ackroyd BSC (Hurt Locker) and superb editing by Nic Gaster.
Fiennes works his well-honed craft with the actors, who obviously trust him implicitly. Their work is large, raw and personal.
We will be hearing more about this film during Oscar season.
For more information about the film, Coriolanus, see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1372686/
Cast Ralph Fiennes – Caius Martius ‘Coriolanus’
Gerard Butler – Tullus Aufidius Brian Cox – Menenius
Vanessa Redgrave – Volumnia Jessica Chastain – Virgilia
John Kani – General Cominius
James Nesbitt – Sicinius
Paul Jessson – Brutus
Lubna Azabal – Tamora
Ashraf Barhom – Cassius
Dragan Miéanovié – Titus Lartius
Directed by Ralph Fiennes
Screenplay by John Logan
Based on the play Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
Produced by Ralph Fiennes, John Logan, Gabrielle Tana Julia Taylor-Stanley and Colin Vaines
Executive Producer, Marko Miskovic, Will Young, Robert Whitehouse Christopher Figg Norman Merry, Christine Langan, Anthony Buckner
Co-Producer, Kevan Van Thompson
Director of Photography – Barry Ackroyd
BSC Editor – Nic Gaster
Production Designer – Ricky Eyres
Composer – Ilan Eshkeri
Costume Designer – Bojana Nikitovié
Hair and Make-up Designer – Daniel Parker
Production Sound Mixer – Ray Beckett CAS
Casting Director – Jina Jay
© 2011, Cirina Catania, All Rights Reserved