Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Coriolanus: Voldemort does Shakespeare

If you remember last year, I had at one point made a list of the movies that I was most looking forward to in the year 2012. One of them was a movie that came out a little while ago, but I had not a chance to see it until this morning, much to my displeasure. That movie is called Coriolanus, which is the directorial debut of Ralph Fiennes (who also stars in it), better known to the world as Voldemort. And before anybody asks, I have seen the movie now and I can confirm that Fiennes does in fact... have a nose. But onto the important stuff. For those of you who are unaware, I am not a huge fan of the director Baz Lurhman. What does that have anything to do with this movie? Well, Lurhman is, in my opinion, a guy who values style over substance. He tries to show that he values both, but the style part always prevails in my opinion. A perfect example of this is his film Romeo + Juliet. While I do admire his effort and intentions to bring Shakespeare's work to a younger audience who wouldn't have otherwise taken a look, I think his execution was slightly off. For one thing, casting Claire Danes and Leo DiCaprio as the main characters, while I don't blame him... Well, he could have done better. The idea of taking Shakespeare's words and puting them into a modern setting is a clever and challenging trick, though not impossible. The problem that I have with Baz's version is that the people speaking the words make it feel out of place. It's just teenagers and New Yorkers speaking them, and as much as I respect the cast, including Paul Sorvino, I couldn't get used to them talking like that. Take that compared to Ralph Fiennes' adaptation of Coriolanus, which is again, taking Bill's words and applying them to a modern setting. Again, I will say that it took me a while to get used to such an old dialect being heard in this kind of setting, but the main difference was the cast. While R+J was all teens and New Yorkers, Coriolanus was all classically trained actors who all got their start in theater, some of them doing Shakespeare even. Ralph Fiennes even acted in this play when he was getting started. The rest of the cast includes Gerard Butler, Jessica Chastain, Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox. To them, this is nothing new, and again, while it feels a little out of place, the actors still do a good job of making it sound natural. The acception is Gerard Butler, who has mostly done action films like 300, but I think he is like Liam Neeson, he can do more dramatic roles, but all we want to see him in is action movies. Here, Butler really proves his dramatic talent. Being that this movie didn't get a very wide release in theaters, I won't be surprised if it gets overlooked come awards season, which is a real shame, because this really is a well made movie that gives Bill all the respect his work deserves. This movie deserves to be put in the same league as Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, which has become the definitive Shakespeare movie.

Final Grade: A+

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