What kind of mother would raise a mighty warrior like Coriolanus? How about Vanessa Redgrave? Now THERE is a mother!

"Coriolanus" is based on Shakespeare's play by the same name and the language is Elizabethan. Like much of Shakespeare's work, his theme is timeless: Once politicians feel safe, they quickly turn against the military. All it takes to update this story is contemporary clothing, uniforms, video cameras, television news and cell phones; human nature hasn't changed a bit.

Coriolanus is a returning war hero who holds conniving politicians in contempt; he tries to play the game but ends up raging at their self- serving views: with the safety of Rome secured, the senators have turned his heroism into treachery by manipulating public opinion. Coriolanus is exiled from his city, his family and his beloved army.

These actors speak Elizabethan like it's their mother tongue (Oh, wait... It IS their mother tongue!):
  • Ralph Fiennes ("Harry Potter") as Coriolanus, military to the core. He is incapable of smooth political double-talk, is uncomfortable with public speaking and can only writhe under the scrutiny of fame.
  • Vanessa Redgrave ("Anonymous") gives us a towering portrayal of Volumnia, grieving, demanding, and patriotic; she's determined to save Rome.
  • Brian Cox ("Red") as Menenius, an elder who understands the issues and sympathizes with our hero...to his own peril.
  • Jessica Chastain ("The Help") is Virgilia, wife of our legendary war hero, who sees the politicians turn on her husband. When the chips are down, she joins forces with his mother; this is a pair we can draw to.
  • Gerard Butler ("Machine Gun Preacher") is Aufidius, our hero's loyal opposition: General in the Volscian Army and sworn enemy of Rome, he can't believe his good fortune when our exiled hero offers his services.
Because Fiennes directed and shot this film in Serbia and Montenegro, things are just "foreign" enough that we buy into the entire concept. Uniforms, vehicles, buildings, the marble halls of government, all are slightly unfamiliar but still convincing. To see the mutual respect between our two military men, despite their enmity, is to believe they are both honorable men, which makes the ending even more poignant.

I was impressed.
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Here is a link to a preview:
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