On DVD/Blu-ray – Coriolanus (2012)
by NIR SHALEV
Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in this magnificent modern dress adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s forgotten, great tragedies, Coriolanus.
In a city that calls itself Rome, General Caius Martius Coriolanus (Fiennes) holds its citizens under his thumb because he hates them and their constant protests (the irony is overwhelming). And just when he pulls back the city’s supply of food he decides to march out of Rome and into a border town to do war with his long-time enemies, the Volscians whose army is led by Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler).
Upon his triumphant return to Rome, Coriolanus is hailed as war hero and a certain set of politicians decides that he should take up a seat in the senate. Little does Coriolanus know, another set of politicians, one that sides with the hungry citizens of Rome, schemes a way to destroy him as a popular figurehead and he’s soon thereafter ostracized. Coriolanus’ only method of survival then is to take up arms with his erstwhile enemies and wage war against the country that betrayed him, leading to tragic consequences.
Fiennes does an outstanding job of making us feel like we’re actually there and that Coriolanus is a man of flesh and blood, and not just a tragic screen character. The film’s supporting cast includes Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox, and James Nesbitt and they add brilliantly to the ferocity of the situation and deliver its Shakespearean dialogue with terrific conviction.
Belgrade, Serbia provides the physical setting and the film’s sequences of war are entirely and purposely reminiscent of their recent hardships and the wars they fought. Ruins of parts of the city become housing for the Volscian citizens and it’s all too effective. The film’s cinematography and sound design are masterfully composed by the guys behind The Hurt Locker (2009). This film is a must see and I place it up there with Julie Taymor’s brilliant fever-dream interpretation of Titus (1999) as my favorite film adaptation of Shakespearean tragedies that are not Hamlet, King Lear, or Macbeth.
The DVD/Blu-ray combo pack features an Audio Commentary by actor/director Ralph Fiennes, The Making of Coriolanus, and additional trailers.
Other new releases this week: Gone, Man on a Ledge, We Need to Talk About Kevin