Ralph Fiennes can fall into similar pool of talented performers who can also have a knack at direction just like Robert Redford, Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood. In his directorial debut, "Coriolanus" Fiennes combines a Shakespeare film that anyone can grasp at. Even if you don't have a degree in Shakespearean literature. In his 30 year career, Fiennes has built an impressive reputation of really getting emotionally deep into his characterizations and going out of way to make the complexities of his characters something to get his audience a reason to root for. His direction has similar traits to his performances. The film explores the strengths and vulnerabilities of his character along with the many triumphs and failures while keeping his characters look and feel real. Fiennes stars as Caius Martius Coriolanus, a mighty but questionable general in the Roman army. During a altercation with a rival army brigade, he goes beyond protocol that cause his civil liberties to be in doubt. An activist elite wants Coriolanus evicted for his violations. For his heroic accomplishments, his supportive mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave) suggests he be ranked to the position to the high office of the Consul. But he must get support of from the destitute who were the ones most affected by his questionable deeds. Many people want him to reach out and restore peace which also includes his wife Virgilia (Jessica Chastain). He agrees to get support, but the activists don't want any of that. Feeling rejected from those he stood up for, Coriolanus joins forces with his enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler). The consequences come into play once these two form an alliance. I may feel like a complete idiot, but I may as well make confession to all of you. I have always had trouble deciphering Shakespeare. The language and the lingo was all so complex. Even simple tales like "Romeo and Juliet" are hard to fully translate. On the plus side, "Coriolanlus" was quite easy to get invested in. Thanks to the script from John Logan his technical skills make it easy to get under without insulting our intelligence. In various scenes, mock TV newscasts appear to gather updates during the coarse of the action. A real added treat is that some of the characters actually speak in more modernized language so that not all Shakespearean literature geniuses will be lost in translation. The actors also contribute to the worthy cause by generating emotions that are effective and their language tones are clear enough so that we can care about the characters while the performers understand that we're not living in the 16th century and our language has altered a bit over the years for better or worse. The ensemble cast is quite remarkable. Fiennes is just genuinely jacked up as the titular character. His rage and intensity sends chills as he plays a man who doesn't act, but demands our respect. If you put this guy down in any way, vengeance will be just a motion away whether you deserved it or not. Fiennes is just powerfully scary. Redgrave is equally ambitious as his mother who is there at all times for her son. In an extended scene, we see Volumnia trying to get some sense into Coriolanus, but her efforts end up becoming ostracized. Butler as Tullus Aufidius is just the perfect foil of an adversary to Coriolanus. There clashes are fierce with neither of them backing down. Jessica Chastain and Brian Cox show get support as Coriolanus' boss and his trusty confidant are brilliant in their respected performances. It must've took a lot of work to adapt a Shakespearean story told in modern times. But Fiennes and Logan manage to accomplish that by finding the theme while modernizing the scenarios for our viewing pleasures. The action scenes are plugged in fantastically to keep us over the edge and supports the plot flawlessly. In our lifetimes, we had very powerful figures and they all shared one thing we all strive for, to earn respect. People have not always made choices to seek our approval without concern of who will face the consequences. We've been victims under leaders who have been barbarians, psychopaths and cynics. The film explore all those surfaces which makes it very symbolic and accurate. Well executed cinematography, perfectly placed editing and very well performed, "Coriolanus" went beyond my expectations to being a very entertaining film. The intense atmosphere will likely suck you in. It might help that you understand Shakespeare to get the grasp of the story. If you don't understand the old English of Shakespeare, fear not, the Bard's work are still effective while also has the liberal license to offer new approaches to the classic play. This is clearly a great adaptation to a Shakespearean classic.
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A banished hero of Rome allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city.
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April 15, 2019