Ralph Fiennes, best known to anyone in their teens for playing Lord Voldemort, had never directed a movie before. But when he did, he aimed high - turning Shakespeare's tragedy Coriolanus into an engaging movie.
Fiennes stars as Caius Martius Coriolanus, a Roman general who bears as many scars on his body as he has won wars. He fends off the city's enemy, the Volsci, and returns victorious. Despite his achievements, he never wins the hearts of the crowd because of his arrogance and blunt manner.
When Coriolanus is exiled from his own country, he seeks out the Volsci. The commander of the Volscian army Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) takes him in, and he begins planning his tit-for-tat revenge against Rome.
The movie dubs an ancient dialogue onto a war that could happen anywhere, anytime, from the Falklands conflict to the Iraq war. But instead of draping actors in togas and giving them swords, they wield rifles and grenades, watch war news and broadcast debates live on TV. Far from disengaging the audience, the Shakespearean wording adds tension.
Fiennes was wise in using cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, the man behind the Oscar-winning war flick The Hurt Locker. His brilliant handheld shots bring a sense of bleakness and realism.
Coriolanus is bold, but ultimately very successful.
Contains violent and graphic images