DRAMA; 2hr 2min
STARRING: Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave, Gerard Butler, Jessica Chastain
Seat of power: Fiennes
In “A place calling itself Rome,” General Caius Martias Coriolanus (Fiennes) is loathed by starving citizens. When a brawl erupts between a ravenous mob and riot police, Martias appears, oozing contempt. “Get you home, you fragments,” he sneers as TV cameras and mobile phones record every contemptuous word. It could be any beset contemporary city — it’s actually Belgrade — but this is a shrewd reimagining by screenwriter John Logan and director Fiennes of Shakespeare’s
play, with political ambition, betrayal and retribution as its cornerstones.
After routing his mortal foe Tullus Aufidius (Butler) in battle and with the forceful encouragement of his zealous mother (Redgrave) and the support of his soulful wife (Chastain), Martias has the prime post of Consul in his sights. It’s not to be: backstabbed by scheming pollies, he’s banished from Rome with only his sworn enemy to turn to. The language is ornate but Shakespeare’s themes are eternally current, especially when thrashed out by a first-rate cast. Doing double duty, Fiennes excels as director and tormented soul, cursed by the fire and pride that created him.