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Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave, Gerard Butler, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox, James Nesbitt, Paul Jesson, John Kani, Lubna Azabal

Director: Ralph Fiennes

This was never one of Shakespeare's more accessible plays, but Fiennes, as both director and star, tries hard to pump it up with bursts of action and some powerful performances, not least his own.

Caius Martius Coriolanus (Fiennes) is a dog of war, worshipped both by his mother (Redgrave) and wife (the ubiquitous Chastain). Currently, he's just seen off a rival faction led by Aufidius (Butler) almost single-handed, and returns to Rome in triumph. But when he's put forward for consul, two sneaky tribunes (Nesbitt, Jesson) conspire against him, and, hated by the populace for his aggressive methods, Coriolanus finds himself banished from Rome.

He plots his revenge by joining forces with his previous enemies, and marching on his native city.

The Bard didn't really provide enough plot here for such a long play, and you may nod off in the dull bits. No denying, though, the strength of some of the performances, particularly Fiennes himself, and Redgrave at her fiercest. Jon Snow gets a laugh just by coming on as a newsreader spouting Shakespeare.

David Quinlan

UK 2010. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour by deluxe.
128 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 15 Jan 2012