Shortly after starting Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes/Voldemort's directorial debut, I immediately groaned. The dialogue was taken from the original Shakespeare play and it was immediately off-putting and awkward. It was distracting, difficult to understand, an unnecessary contrivance.
Then I stopped being a dumbass and got used to it.
The thing of it is - most stories told in the Western mainstream are rather immature. There's a reason the young-adult genre has become so popular and that's because our entire society has a problem with maturity. No one wants to grow up. Now I'm not denigrating YA literature or childhood or having a good ol' rollicking time. But as a man who pays his taxes, takes out the garbage, enjoys sex, ponders the meaning of things in a non-angsty manner, and has otherwise done his time in the presence of death, abuse, and evil, I have to say that constantly being treated like a thoughtless child is wearying.
A little balance is nice and Coriolanus hit the spot like a crisp cola on a hot Global-warmitized summer afternoon.
Coriolanus tells the adult story of a heroic general who loves his country and hates its people. Yep, no floaty-haired, wise-cracking man-hunk here. His country is ostensibly Rome, but the whole thing is set in pseudo modern-times, meaning that he and his soldiers use modern fire-arms and there are cars and television interviews but at the same time, concepts like consul and tribunes and city-states lurk. I do feel that Coriolanus could have been a stronger film had it thoroughly modernized these as well, as there existed some distracting friction between these new and old elements. Like, there'll be a battle and it will involve only a handful of soldiers and it's rather unclear... Is this a battle? Like, in the modern sense? Between modern countries, with jets and tanks and laser-guided missiles? Because it sure doesn't seem the case. Or there'll be some obsession with Coriolanus showing his wounds to the people to prove his valor and thereby gain their vote to become consul and... well, that's not a modern concept. So yes it's full of anachronisms.
But if you can get past those, and the admittedly dense language, you'll find a complex, mature tragedy, just as you might expect from Shakespeare. Coriolanus is a proud man who nevertheless dislikes hearing praise, implacable before his enemies yet equally inflexible in his refusal to cater to the masses. You know, a nice real character, the type of character who can get you thinking. And you know what? Thinking is awesome.
Final Say: A flawed, awkward movie that was nevertheless thought-provoking and therefore worthy of a watch.
How to Watch It: With educated / well-read / intelligent people. I'm not being arrogant or anything here. I'm being serious. You don't want to watch this with people who are going to complain the entire time about how they can't understand the Shakespearean lines.
Trivia: Like most characters in Shakespeare, Coriolanus was a real dude. He was an orphan, which explains his devotion to his mother. In fact, if you care to, you can read all about him here, in Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans.