Box art for Coriolanus


drama, thrillers

Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in this dramatic thriller about the revered and feared General Coriolanus' revenge on the city of Rome following his banishment.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
1 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
0 out of 5
4 out of 5

War-set Shakespeare adaptation has plenty of blood and gore.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that while it might be tempting to introduce teens to Shakespeare with this movie -- Coriolanus is adapted from one of The Bard's lesser-known plays -- the movie's somewhat modern wartime setting means that there's lots of strong, bloody violence, including guns and shootings, knife fights, hand-to-hand fights, and dead bodies. One character commits suicide by slitting a wrist. In fact, it's probably the most violent Shakespeare movie adaptation since Roman Polanski's 1971 Macbeth, and the handheld camerawork only adds to the general chaos and unease. Characters are also sometimes seen drinking and smoking in a background way. All of that said, this is a powerful work with great performances, and it could turn on older teens who can handle the content to the rest of Shakespeare's work.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about Coriolanus' violence. Is it necessary to get the film's plot and themes across? How do you think it might have been different if had been set further in the past?
  • Is Coriolanus a hero? Is he a good role model? Why should we root for him?
  • Do you think adapting Shakespeare to a period of modern warfare works? Does updating a book or play's setting make it more accessible, even if the language is the same?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 20
    see all Coriolanus reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: What remains, in distilled form, is the poetry of violence and contempt-the source of the play's unfailing reputation for political threat and mischief.

- Anthony Lane, New Yorker, Monday, January 23, 2012

Fresh: Ralph Fiennes turns one of Shakespeare's least-loved plays into a slashing, muscular but uneven modern drama in his film-directing debut.

- Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fresh: Slathered in blood, covered with scars and glowering with a predator's gaze, Ralph Fiennes makes a fierce and impressive Caius Martius Coriolanus.

- Connie Ogle, Miami Herald, Friday, March 23, 2012

Audience Reviews

3 stars

Nature Teaches Beasts to Know Their Friends Decent Shakesperian based movie! Shakespeare's dramas may well be set up in a contemporary set, because the content is timeless. Here the screenplay drama is performed in its original text. The old lines sometimes are in conflict with the modern outfit, but you are quickly caught back to the drama by the violent intrigues and you become strongly affected by the deep conflicts between power and love. The war scenes are realistic and bloody. It is exciting and the outcome uncertain for the uninitiated. Ralph Fiennes both directs and plays the title role and succeeds well. He has got a star team both in front and behind the camera. The film photo by Barry Ackroyd is brilliant. The set and costumes are next to perfection. The 74-year-old Vanessa Redgrave portrays Coriolanus' mother, Volumnia, powerful and convincing. Gerard Butler as the rebel leader acts with strong charisma and realism. Additional casting is also very good. Coriolanus is a tense and violent political wartime thriller which makes Shakespeare not only accessible but utterly captivating. A credible directorial debut from one of the industry's finest working actors. The citizens of Rome are hungry. Coriolanus, the hero of Rome, a great soldier and a man of inflexible self-belief despises the people. His extreme views ignite a mass riot. Rome is bloody. Manipulated and out-maneuvered by politicians and even his own mother Volumnia, Coriolanus is banished from Rome. He offers his life or his services to his sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius.

- MANUGINO, Tuesday, November 27, 2012

5 stars

It`s Shakespeare meets The Hurt Locker. A tremendously entertaining and electrifying film. A stylish, lean, muscular and gripping modern drama that packs serious and intense punch of a hard-edge action-thriller. An unforgettable and powerful movie. A triumphant masterwork from Director-Star, Ralph Fiennes, he proves to be an extraordinary director. A fiery and rich directional debut. Fiennes gives an astonishing and passionate performance, his best yet. Gerard Butler is outstanding, one of his best performances so far. Butler and Fiennes have never been better, their performances are just simply a tour de force. The performances are truly top-notch from it`s amazing cast. Jessica Chastain is wonderful. Vanessa Redgrave is at her best. Brain Cox and James Nesbitt are excellent. A heart-pounding and exhilarating movie packed with explosive action and the breathtaking drama of Shakespeare`s words. It`s wickedly well-crafted and superbly performed film. A gorgeous, dark and bloody great movie. I loved this movie.

- allan913, Friday, November 23, 2012

4 stars

Full disclosure: I've never read the play this is based on. In fact, I had never heard of this "lesser" Shakespeare until I saw the trailer. And honestly, the trailer is the primary reason I wanted to see the movie. It looked intriguing, and I was curious to see how Fiennes would do in his debut as a director. Well, those might not be the best reasons for seeing a movie, because it is shallow, but I don't care. I stuck to my guns, and finally saw it....and I'm glad I did. Set in an alternate version of contemporary times, this is the story of a general named Caius Martius from a place that calls itself Rome who is simultaneously revered and feared. He finds himself at odds with his city and its people after his bid for a seat on the Consul backfires after he goes off on a tirade that insults the common people. There's more to it of course, with lots of manipulations, scheming, and political power plays, but essentially what happens is that Caius Martius,(who is given the title Coriolanus after he takes a city from his mortal enemy's territory) finds himself an exile of Rome, and is forced to join forces with his mortal enemy to get revenge on Rome. The original work by Shakespeare might take place in Ancient Roman times, but the wonderful thing about the Bard is that his work, minus the specifics, is very timeless and can be relevant in basically any era. The movie is supposed to be in a contemporary alternate Rome, but it seemed more like Serbia and the military actions that took place there during the 1990s. Of course, that could just be from the fact that the movie was shot on location in Belgrade. The setting and time are updated, but the original language is unchanged. This can be disorienting for people not used to the Elizabethan style, but it mostly works pretty well. Some of the dialogue does stick out and seem a tad out of place since the story is contemporized, but overall, this is a solid adaptation with some great themes concerning honor, revenge, and political machinations. You could call this a war film, especially due to the first like 45 minutes, but in the end this is just a good old fashioned revenge story, and there's not a thing in the world wrong with that. Some of this is pretty gritty, bloody, and grim, but it is awesome. Some of the shaky cam during the action scenes is mildly annoying, and I'm not sure that it use was the best decision, but thankfully the editing keeps things from being completely unwatchable. Fiennes does a great job in the lead role. He's intense, brooding, and when things get real, you can just tell some serious business is about to go down. I love Gerard Butler, and it's cool seeing him here as Coriolanus's sworn foe, but he's actually a little underwhelming here, and there's not as much of him as I was hoping for. He is decent though. Along with them, the film does have a solid supporting cast who all do really good jobs, especially Brian Cox, and most of all Vanessa Redgrave. All in all, the play might be lesser Shakespeare (in terms of popularity and quality), but this is a stirring and gripping film. Definitely give it a chance. Fiennes is a little rusty as a director, but I think this could nevertheless be the great beginning for him as a man behind the camera.

- cosmo313, Tuesday, September 25, 2012