Well, after waiting for months to finally get my hands on a DVD of the new remake of "Coriolanus" starring Ralph Feinnes and Gerard Butler, I must confess that I was disappointed. I had so hoped that, with the star power of two of my favorite actors, the film makers would give us a motion picture based on the general plot line of the Shakespearean play but give us more modern and natural dialogue. (Sorry, Will, but your 15th century prose is so stilted and difficult to grasp at times it is REALLY distracting with the backdrop of a modern-day action movie).
As expected the acting was superb, especially with such acting veterans as Vanessa Redgrave playing Coriolanus' mother. Gerard Butler was also back in fine form. But the modern sets, costume and attitudes just served to emphasize the antiquated dialogue. My husband and I usually watch any disks we get from Netflix together and despite the action, he revolted and demanded something else after only about 30 minutes.
I have actually seen a modernized version of "Coriolanus" before at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival down in Ashland a couple of years ago. There, since I was prepared to hear Shakespeare, I enjoyed the performance despite the fact that I prefer my historical epics to be costumed for the period. (As costumes are such an integral part of a live performance, I am always a bit disappointed when the producers opt for St. Vincent de Paul leftovers instead of burnished Roman cuirasses and dashing crested helmets.)
But I was taken off guard by the latest big screen version. The trailer had succeeded in building up my expectation of an action packed thriller with a twist of political duplicity. If you notice, there is no long rambling Shakespearean passages, just short phrases containing words that could have been spoken in modern dialogue.
Instead I got “Know thou first, I loved the maid I married; never man sigh’d truer breath; but that I see thee here, thou noble thing more dances my rapt heart than when I first my wedded mistress saw bestride my threshold.”
Maybe "Coriolanus" will eventually make it to Netflix instant streaming and I can watch it alone without spousal distraction. Maybe my appreciation for it will grow. However, I do hope someday a filmmaker will actually take the legend of "Coriolanus" and produce a box office smash. I'm afraid this wasn't it.
For a more thorough (and positive) review of Ralph Feinnes directing debut, I recommend the following: