Silent J’s review published on Letterboxd :
I have seen plenty of films that tried to put Shakespeare in a modern setting and from what I've seen (Hamlet 2000, Romeo + Juliet, etc) they've all been either mediocre or downright terrible (I'm especially looking at you Romeo + Juliet). I began to doubt it was impossible to translate Shakespeare's words onto a modern setting. The one film that happens to come close to making it work is Coriolanus, one of Shakespeare's lesser known work.
Over the years, I have become a huge fan of Shakespeare as a writer, but I am unfamilar with his play Coriolanus. Therefore I have no idea how faithful it is to it's source material so I can only look at this as it is presented. With that said, in terms of translating the words of Shakespeare in a modern setting, it does a fine job of doing so. I'll admit it was hard to adjust to but when I get into it and got used to the style this was going for, I found it pretty powerful and a lot of that has to do with the performances.
Ralph Fiennes is terrific in the title role, but I wish I could say the same for what he does behind the camera. For his directorial debut, the camera is too clunky and even shaky to the point it's a tad annoying and distracting. His directorial effort is the main flaw with the film but his performance is excellent. He's intense, scary, and compelling throughout. You can tell he cares about his character and source material and therefore he puts his soul into every scene. Vanessa Redgrave is just incredible as his manipulative mother and actually steals the show. You also get superb performances from the likes of Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox, James Nesbitt, and believe it or not Gerard Butler.
I thought it was clever to make this a political film about what is happening now in the world. From what I've looked into about the play, it was a play that was for and ahead of it's time and while it's difficult to not only translate Shakespeare's words into a modern setting but update the setting, Fiennes managed to pull it off. Even when the camera is often shaky and clunky, Fiennes is pretty impressive at times when it comes to action scenes and just the overall gritty look of the film. The cinematography looks stunning. Themes that you usually expect from Shakespeare like vengeance and pride are handled very well here in my opinion. The story is visceral, complex, captivating, gripping and thrilling.
All in all, I really enjoyed this film. Even though he stumbles at times, I would like to see Fiennes follow up this directorial debut because he does a lot right and he does it really well. It's a visually impressive and superbly acted film that proves that Shakespeare actually CAN work in a modern setting as long as it's done right.