Tuesday, March 27, 2012


2011, 118m, Ralph Fiennes (dir)

This is a superb film about a less performed Shakespeare play. The action has been transplanted to a fictitious modern city ("a place that calls itself Rome") with tanks and guns replacing sword and armor (short of planes, mercifully). Initially the anachronistic setting was slightly off putting, as though to frill up the substance of the drama, but finally it turns out to be a powerful and convincing character study, enacted flawlessly by Fiennes, who is also the director. Coriolanus seems much more than a man consumed by inordinate pride, as he is often simplistically described. He is a man driven by a single vision, at the cost of life, family, country, who remains consistent to himself till the end. His disdain for the people is a reflection of an inability to play politics or to indulge in any kind of dissimulation. He is an idealist, making valor his goddess for the sake of which he shows utter contempt for worldly riches and recognition and in fact life itself. He has a yardstick which is completely internal, an island of a man. Compared to him, even Macbeth is a conflicted ditherer. He is the perfect fruition of a species. Yet, thanks to the bard, he is completely plausible as flesh and blood. Whether that image conforms to social ethics or not is as futile as asking about the righteousness of revenge in Hamlet. At any rate this is a film with plenty of life in it.

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