Blu-ray Review: Coriolanus
A modern retelling of a lesser-known though compelling Shakespearean play, Coriolanus is a passion project for Ralph Fiennes, who directs for the first time in his career while also playing the titular Roman leader. With an ability to make the words Shakespeare instantly and effectively telling, Fiennes paces the film with aplomb, and it is clear early and often that, as he has explained, this is a piece of work he knows well and one he has wanted to bring to the big screen.
With a stellar cast including Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox, Gerard Butler, and Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus is a violent, enraging, and compelling story that challenges audiences. As both director and actor, Fiennes forces the viewer to confront the stoic, brave, and arrogant Coriolanus, a man who though he has fought for his people, is schemed against by politicians and thrown out of favour. At times brutal and bloody, and always interesting, Coriolanus is an impressive adaptation and of course, impeccably written.
For your viewing pleasure, both DVD and Blu-Ray are here, the latter availing itself during an early military assault with superb sound and a visually disconcerting blood-soaked Coriolanus.
It would seem that a Shakespearean film is the ideal place to have director commentary. Watch along with Ralph Fiennes, listening in dulcet, British tones to his musings and explanations while making the film. He comes across as incredibly humble, speaking with subtle exuberance about a project he genuinely enjoys, making him and the film all the more endearing. Especially for those who are engaging this play for the first time, it doesn’t hurt to a tutor close by.
Plus you can hear him say cool phrases in his English accent like ‘simplistic reduction’ and ‘wondrous luminosity.’
A very short making-of spot is added to the disc, with interviews by Fiennes, Chastain, Cox, Butler and Redgrave, with the former once again discussing his excitement while the four others praise his ability. A couple behind-the-scenes shots show Fiennes at work behind the camera, and are pretty fascinating to any fans of his work.
Should You Buy It?
Shakespeare is timeless, and worth revisiting with some amount of frequency. For fans of his work, for fans of Fiennes, who himself is a great admirer of the English writer, then this well-done film and strong directorial debut is worth the purchase.