Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes)
This is definitely guilty of playing like “Shakespeare for Dummies” at times since Fiennes is trying as hard as humanly possible to make sure we can follow the plot here. News reports, captions, protest signs, and big bold titles are used to make characters’ relationships blindingly clear. Numerous action scenes are included, with violent gunfights and bloody knife brawls frequently staged. It’s as if the film has been conceived out of a prevailing fear that we might lose interest otherwise. The original play is about war, to be sure, but something about the shift to contemporary trappings makes some of this stuff seem a tad desperate. Nonetheless, most of the drama works very well. A long scene in which public sentiment is swayed toward and then away from Fiennes’ Coriolanus is genuinely stirring. Brian Cox’s attempts to find ethics in politics make for good drama. The highlight, without a doubt, is Vanessa Redgrave’s performance. As a mother who has groomed her son to be a noble soldier, she is an indomitable presence, and her closing monologue is a Shakespearean screen turn for the ages. Gerard Butler, predictably, is a deficit, but he’s mostly asked to serve as a punching bag.
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding (Bruce Beresford)
Melancholia (Lars Von Trier)
The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies)
Albert Nobbs (Rodrigo Garcia)
Kill List (Ben Wheatley)