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Released 20 January 2011
Director Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox, James Nesbitt
Writer(s) John Logan

Ralph Fiennes, John Logan, Gabrielle Tana, Julia Taylor-Stanley, Colin Vaines
Origin United Kingdom
Running Time 122 minutes
Genre Drama, thriller
Rating 15A

Know thy enemy.

William Shakespeare had a habit of writing plays that centred around tragedy. One of his lesser known stories, Coriolanus, was no different but it is almost a wonder why it flew under the radar of more high profile masterpieces like King Lear and Macbeth. Perhaps it needed the modernisation of twenty-first century film-making to help it emerge from its shell or maybe there was little resonance with the popular masses when it was originally penned. Either way, Ralph Fiennes' directorial debut is a spectacular adaptation.

Feared Roman General Caius Martius 'Coriolanus' has fought in honour of his native Rome since he was a teenager but finds himself in a position whereby his ambitious mother pushes him to run for the powerful position of Consul. After years of taking a cold-hearted, warrior-esque outlook at his life's purpose, the hardened solider cannot connect with the people of the city that will ultimately elect him into power. Instead, he is banished for mocking them and a wounded Coriolanus allies himself with lifelong enemy Aufidius to seek revenge.

From the outset, it is not immediately obvious which one of Coriolanus or Aufidius should be perceived as the villain or hero. However, as the movie progresses deeper into the realms of the inner demons that drives human spirit and emotion, it becomes clearer that we are arguably dealing with a pair of antiheroes. Both, but especially the lead character, are deeply flawed but poetically serve the injustices of the respective scenarios they are challenged with to face.

The language, while still Shakespearean in nature, is altered neatly with the use of more modern phrasing that allows the actors to hone in on the new-age slant while refraining from alienating two integral sets of viewers. One who would not like to see the traditional side of Shakespeare tampered with on too large a scale while the other that is longing for a change from the old, archaic style. A genuine balance is found.

While Fiennes and Gerard Butler are fantastic as Coriolanus and Aufidius, the duo are backed up by a stellar performance from the ensemble cast that includes Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox and James Nesbitt. Released in January, Coriolanus could be an early contender for one of the films of 2012.

- David Caulfield