Shakespeare's 'Coriolanus' gets an update in Ralph Fiennes's new production, packed with acting talent.
Larry D. Horricks/HONS/The Weinstein Company/AP
"Coriolanus," one of Shakespeare's least-known major plays, is also perhaps the one most "relevant" to today's headlines. Maybe this is why Ralph Fiennes, who directed John Logan's adaptation and stars as the Roman military hero, decided to modernize it so that it summons up Iraq and Afghanistan and other hot spots.
First the good news: Fiennes leads a cast that, at least in the major roles, is uniformly powerful. It's wonderful to hear actors like Brian Cox, Vanessa Redgrave, and Jessica Chastain (yes, she's in this, too), speak these great incendiary lines.
Fiennes's Caius Martius, later known as Coriolanus, is contemptuous of the clamoring Roman citizenry he defends and idolatrous of his enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler). His downfall lies in these divisions. His fall from power, once set in motion, is horrifyingly swift. Fiennes played Martius at least once before, 10 years ago, on the London stage and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and it's a role that clearly galvanizes him. If you want to see what Voldemort is capable of, see Fiennes here.