Ralph Fiennes directs Coriolanus
Adapting William Shakespeare’s plays to the screen has always been considered a brave move in Hollywood. The latest addition, directed by Ralph Fiennes, is one of the Bard’s more lengthy and complicated plays: Coriolanus. Filmed on location in war-torn Belgrade, the narrative follows General Caius Martius Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes) who, after returning home from battle with sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler), is rejected by his people for his lack of compassion towards them. For this he is banished and renders his services to Aufidius, with whom he attempts to take over Rome.
The stellar cast includes Shakespearean veteran Brian Cox as Coriolanus’ father Menenius, an outstanding Vanessa Redgrave as his tight-lipped mother Volumnia and a small cameo from Channel 4’s Jon Snow; Coriolanus seems to have all the tools needed to pull off such a brave feat and it does… to an extent. Fiennes made a good point at the press conference saying it is the dialogue that drives a successful Shakespearean film adaptation, not the originality of new scenes. Coriolanus does have many scenes where the Bard’s verses have been unchanged, but it is increasingly hard to ignore the fact that many acts seemed rushed and the frequency of face close-ups gave the feel of watching actors on the stage rather than on screen. Having said this, it would be a crime to ignore how each actor fits perfectly into their role, reciting the famous bard looking surprisingly comfortable. James Nesbitt plays a member of the Senate determined to see justice brought upon Coriolanus, and Gerard Butler as Coriolanus’ enemy; both bring a refreshing take on a 300-year-old play.
Coriolanus can be slow at times, but this being Fiennes directorial debut it leaves bags of promise and excitement for his next projects.
Watch the trailer for Coriolanus here: