By Louise Logan
Director: Ralph Fiennes
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave
In cinemas 20th January
Ralph Fiennes’ daring directorial debut is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s lesser-known play Coriolanus, a story of war, power, and politics (well, it was hardly going to be a rom-com), told in our modern times of rolling news, social media, and weapons of mass destruction.
Caius Marcius Coriolanus (played by Fiennes) is a ruthless Roman general turned politician who, banished by the people he fought to protect, turns to his sworn enemy, the Volscian Aufidius (Gerard Butler), to get revenge. Despite being written hundreds of years ago by the Bard, the story is strikingly relevant; the uprising of the Roman people is reminiscent of the Arab Spring, and there can be no question as to the similarities between General Coriolanus, loathed by his people, and Colonel Gaddafi. The film also comments on the effects of modern technology, as clips are filmed on smart phones and broadcast via 24-hour rolling news (watch out for a cameo from Channel 4 News’ Jon Snow, iambic pentameter and all). Even the personal battle between Fiennes and the Scottish Butler’s character hints at the age-old England/Scotland divide and the current debate on independence. It’s a film that resonates with an audience, who watch familiar scenes in an alien form.
The film’s strengths lie in its performances; Vanessa Redgrave steals the show as Coriolanus’ overbearing ‘Doctor Frankenstein’ of a mother Volumnia, whilst Gerard Butler emerges from years of underwhelming comedies to show that he can be quite the thespian given the opportunity. Under his own direction, Fiennes is as terrifying, intense, brutal, and brilliant as ever, with piercing eyes that throughout the film seemed to warn every would-be film critic, ‘if you dare mention Lord Voldemort in your review, I will hunt you down and kill you with my bare hands’.
Although perhaps a little long, Fiennes succeeds in bringing Shakespeare’s play into the 21st century to produce a film that speaks to a modern audience living in a chaotic world with an uncertain future.
To read the Telegraph’s interview with Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow, who has a cameo in Coriolanus, pick up a copy of the next edition of the Strathclyde Telegraph, on campus soon!document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);