BFI Day 5 – Coriolanus – Ralph Fiennes sits in the directors chair for this Shakespeare Adaptation

17 Oct

Lining up a stellar cast for not the easiest of Shakespearean adaptations must have been daunting for Ralph Fiennes, but as he put it at  the press conference, he was obsessed with this character and how relevant the play is to our modern society. That is the beauty of Shakespeare, its adaptability and ability to impact audiences around the world year after year and in so many different forms.

I wonder how difficult it must have been for Fiennes to pitch this to the financiers though, as on paper its not a well known play, its dark, aggressive and political. However when you know that Vanessa Redgrave is on board as well as Brian Cox and the then unknown Jessica Chastain – you must be on to a winner. Gerard Butler may have been somewhat of a wildcard in the first instance due to his action and rom-com notoriety however if you watch the film, you’ll notice how he holds his own just fine amongst these distinguished thesps!

The setting is Serbia, Belgrade in the midst of political turmoil and uprising against Coriolanus. The Serbian actors in the film adapt to the prose expertly and provide small but valuable parts in the film. The action, particularly at the beginning of the film is electrifying – particularly in a cinema surrounding and you feel like you are a part of the warfare yourself. You get inside the skin of Coriolanus, brilliantly portrayed by Fiennes.

However, it may have been the time of day in which the film was shown, but there was a considerable lull in the middle of the film. For wider audiences this is no Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, it was never an easy play to take to, and despite Ralph Fiennes valiant attempt – it just misses the mark. The real star of the show is Vanessa Redgrave, there have to be Oscar bells ringing, this performance is one all actors should watch and aspire to emulate in their careers, a real master at work – particularly in her closing speech. This film has all the right tools to make it magical but is just a very near miss. Die Hard Shakespeare fans may love it, I’m not sure, but for the wider cinema going public, I’m not so sure.

It still however managed to successfully pull in the crowds at the premiere and hopefully thats a reflection of the same level of people that will support this film. We’ll have to wait and see. Its out on UK general release on the 20th January 2012.

 

 

 

 

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