Tuesday, 14 October 2014


Set in early 1960s Poland and filmed, (appropriately? - behind the Iron Curtain things always did seem pretty monochrome), almost entirely in black and white, Ida tells the story of a young novitiate who is instructed to meet her only relative before being allowed to take her final vows. Without much enthusiasm, she sets off in driving snow from a huge, once beautiful, hopelessly delapidated building. In an unnamed city, she finds her aunt who tells her the true story of her family. Together they set off to find her parents' unmarked graves.

I don't want to spoil the story by explaining what happens. The important thing is that the film conveys better than anything I've ever come across the devastation - psychological as much as physical - of  post-war Communist Europe. The characters live among the wreckage of the recent past.

The performance of Agata Kulesza as Wanda, the aunt, is particularly outstanding, but no-one in the film is weak, (except perhaps the Dusty Springfieldesque singer, who doesn't seem to quite inhabit the period). The composition of the shots - if that's the correct way to put it; I need a course in cinema - is extremely beautiful. Despite the sombre subject matter there are even moments of humour. My favourite was when Wanda asks in a village pub whether the barman remembers the Lebensteins. 'Jews?' he asks. 'No, Eskimoes', she replies.

The film is fairly enigmatic. The first scene, in which Ida repaints the face of an old statue of Jesus and then helps her fellow novitiates raise it falteringly onto a pedestal in the grounds of the nunnery, may represent the reemergence, however precariously, of goodness as a force, in which case the final scene might be seen to reinforce this. All the same, rather than including an interlude where things appear to be on the point of resolving into a happy ending, I think I might have stopped the camera before an open window in the aunt's flat and left things at that.

Never mind. This is a minor quibble and I may have actually completely missed the point. The main thing is, if you've been searching all your life for a Sound of Music without sentimentality, schmaltz or cuteness, Ida could just fit the bill

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Gone Girl

The opening sequence of Gone Girl shows the America of recession, with shots of failed small businesses, reduced-price real estate and a deserted main street. Subsequently, tiny glimpses of this grubby world are allowed in occasionally - the main character's father's house, mainly; his twin sister's house, to a degree, (it is hardly horrid, just not aggressively glossy); a place that I think might be a trailer park, (but not a gritty one, or, if that is considered gritty, I dread to think what the film's director would make of Australian country town motels [for whose dagginess I have a peculiar fondness, but that is another story]).

Apart from those brief moments, the movie's subsequent action takes place almost exclusively in the honey-lit world of media fantasy - that golden, skipping-through-flowery-pastures, having-breakfast-with-shiny-kids-in-sparkling-white-kitchens environment that we have all had poured into our retinas for decades now. It is a world created in order to sell us stuff - insurance, breakfast cereal, pointless disinfecting kitchen-top 'wipes', lavatory paper, fast food. It is what has made many of us neurotic, barely able to convince ourselves that interiors are never really that perfect, that newness is neither a quality nor something that endures.

And if you want a true neurotic, Amy, (Rosamund Pike), the main female character of Gone Girl, fits the bill. Exploited by her parents, (David Clennan and Lisa Banes), for profit from her earliest childhood - their Amazing Amy books sell to an adoring public the story of a girl just like their own real daughter, but minus any of her failures - she acquires a husband, (Ben Affleck), who dazzles her with a projection of himself that he cannot maintain in the long run. The story of the film is the story of what happens when Amy realises she's been sold a dud.

The plot is thick with twists and turns of increasing unbelievability. The characters are flimsily drawn and scarcely credible, (Collings [Neil Patrick Harris] is nothing but a plot device masquerading in a person's clothing, surely), there is no explanation of how no criminal charges are brought for what must at least constitute manslaughter or why Go, [Carrie Coon], the main male character's sister, appears to have no life of her own at all. The two people I most wanted to see more of were the policewoman, (Kim Dickens), who pops up from time to time but remains undeveloped, while her deputy, (Patrick Fugit) is so clownishly blinkered in his judgments he makes Dr Watson look like a towering genius, and Tanner Bolt, (Tyler Perry), who injects the film with energy every time he appears on the screen.

I don't understand why this film has been acclaimed so widely. It's entertaining, but a bit long. It's very gory. It hints at something interesting about the dysjunction between what we are led to believe existence might be like if we buy enough of the right products and what existence is actually like, but it's not in the business of being deep and serious. It is as glossy as an advertisement - and, while it's possible to argue that's because it's making a critique of that kind of image-making, it ends up being too silly and unbelievable to do a good job of that. The real problem for me is that all the characters are so flimsy - without engagement I find it very hard to be seduced into suspending my disbelief.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed

This is a charming film that seems to do a pretty good job of bringing to life Franco's Spain.  It certainly made me glad I didn't live there, and not only because I can't speak Spanish. Some of the characters are a bit too good to be true - most particularly the bar owner - but the central figure, a school teacher who wants to meet John Lennon, is beautifully written and played. It's amazing to see at the end that the film is based on fact, as it comes across as a highly satisfactory fairy tale.  All in all, it is what Sandy Stone would call 'a really nice night's entertainment', although, of course he would probably never dream of going to a Spanish film


There is a moment in Calvary where one character yells at another, 'You have no integrity' and, despite its great cast and beautiful scenery, I think the same could be said about the film. Having chosen one of the most disturbing and painful themes possible, the film-makers dodge it, taking refuge in comedy  - or an attempt at comedy - for the greater part of the film, gilding the lily further with a dad and self-harming daughter reconciliation story that seems to be from a different, more naturalistic style of movie altogether, and adding, for good measure, an enigmatic French widow, whose accent is, I think, supposed to make the not enormously insightful things she says sound like the pronouncements of a latter day saint. Only in the closing moments does anyone summon up the courage to confront the horror they've been tiptoeing around for the last hour or so. Two of the characters, almost all of whom have been portrayed up until then as grotesques, caricatures, (role-players, as the creepy doctor puts it), are abruptly transformed - or at least there is an attempt to transform them - into more rounded characters with emotional lives of genuine depth.

The effect of this ultimate shift is jolting. Jolting, of course, can be good. However, it is not good if it ends up destroying coherence and, in Calvary, this is exactly what it does. As a result, Calvary ends up, like Saving Private Ryan, being two films sold as one - both films contain a beach sequence, which is one separate entity, and another longer, apparently discrete segment, which is the other. Calvary's beach sequence ends the film whereas Saving Private Ryan's comes at the beginning, (which means in the latter case that you at least have the opportunity to slip out and avoid the schmaltzy main feature, a possibility Calvary does not provide).

Even though the actors were all good and Sligo looked beautiful, I wouldn't advise anyone to go to see Calvary. The shift at the very end from a Ballykissangel-on-acid narrative, (including a sequence in which Dylan Moran pees on Holbein's The Ambassadors), to something quite else, a deeply serious and horrible scenario, seemed above all tasteless to me - especially as even in the final scene the writer cannot resist a faint return to flippancy in an exchange regarding a dog, plus a discussion about Moby Dick. I know a defence could be made that the whole effect is deliberate - an attempt to portray the way that people spend their time behaving as if there is nothing lurking beneath the merry surface of life, until something cracks and it all leaks out. The trouble is that for most of its length Calvary is not portraying anything that is lifelike; it is being some kind of caricature, presenting a world that is in no way real. Therefore, it cannot ask to be judged on the basis of being like reality. On the other hand, it can be judged on its merits as a work of art and, as such, it fails, in my view - its unconvincing lurch from light to dark makes it a flawed - and for the bulk of the film cowardly - piece of work.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Grand Budapest Hotel

I had my doubts about Grand Budapest Hotel, because I'd read it was inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig, who I'm not that fond of. However it lacks entirely his prissy melancholy. Instead it is a kind of caper movie, full, I'm guessing, with references to the golden age of moviemaking for cinema buffs to spot and endless hidden meanings - not least of course the idea that while we all lead our lives consumed by frivolity and individual desires, the world can fall apart without us noticing, (and can something be read into the reduction of the hotel's full name to a mere GB when at its most grimy and reduced?)

Leaving all that aside, however, the film also works wonderfully as pure entertainment, in the way that old Hollywood gems like High Society do. The rich detail of Anderson's settings are as fascinating as Tintin illustrations and the way the narrative is framed as a story told in a book by a writer who is reporting something told to him by an old man remembering his youth made me think of Patrick Leigh Fermor and his two great travel books, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. The imaginary setting of the film bears traces of Leigh Fermor's Central European haunts and both his story and Anderson's are told from the perspective of someone looking back from the wreckage at his memories of an innocent world. The reliance of the main characters on romantic poetry in times of crisis is hugely appealing and F Murray Abraham's final observation about Monseur Gustave deeply poignant.

The film is visually rich - you could stop every frame and try to drink in each detail, without getting bored - and lighthearted with an undertow of melancholy. If you like Tintin's King Ottokar's Sceptre, it should appeal to you (and come to think of it was Wes Anderson's earlier film The Life Aquatic also influenced by another Tintin story, the one with Professor Calculus's shark-shaped underwater craft and the Thomson twins venturing into the sea in old-fashioned divers' costumes?) Its only flaws for me were a) the slightly preachy refugee speech in which Anderson has Monsiuer Gustave seeming to say that it is okay to abuse migrants, unless they are genuine refugees, b) the balalaikas plus jolly little cartoon Cossack at the end of the credits - even if they are meant to refer to the eventual takeover of the Russians, the wrong note is struck, as there was nothing jolly about that development - and c) the odd way in the scene in the hotel's Turkish baths that Jude Law's face is crystal clear but F Murray Abraham's is slightly blurred - again, possibly this is supposed to indicate something, but I thought it was strange and distracting.

But never mind - it's a wonderful film. I've seen it twice and I'd be happy to see it again.


Monday, 24 March 2014

Le Weekend

After seeing a review of Le Weekend on the television that implied that Nick, Jim Broadbent's character, gives Meg, Lindsay Duncan's character, the brush off, I went into the film determined to hate Nick and take up mental cudgels on Meg's behalf. How could such a plain man possibly think he was too good for lovely Lindsay?

As it turned out, I'd got hold of utterly the wrong end of the stick - although inadvertently I had possibly gained an inkling of what it might be like to be inside Meg's head. The film actually concerns a couple in which the wife, Lindsay Duncan, who describes herself as suffering from boredom and fury and something else I've forgotten - frustration, exasperation, something along those lines - is vain and, presumably because of her considerable beauty, (no evidence is given of the character possessing any other outstanding quality, unless you treasure intense materialism, impatience, dishonesty and a fondness for playing chasies through the streets of Paris in your sixties), thinks she has the right not only to feel disdain for her husband, Broadbent, but to biff him from time to time. On one occasion, she even knocks him to the ground. On another, she lashes out and manages to draw blood. She also calls him an idiot and tells him he has no balls.

The pair have not had sex - at least with each other - for at least five years, which makes this trip to Paris for their anniversary a pretty optimistic gesture. One of the reviewers I saw, while otherwise enthusiastic about the film, commented that they had not enjoyed the film's sex scene, but so far as I could tell there was none - although we do once see Broadbent asking whether he might be allowed to 'mount' Duncan.

Her response, for which I have to admit she really can't be blamed - sex is something that requires persuasion rather than abject requests for permission surely - is to say she is just dropping off. Broadbent accepts this and wanders off to stick pictures of Samuel Beckett and various artworks and headlines cut out of newspapers all over the hotel room walls.

The hotel room in question, by the way, is extremely grand, if you like that sort of thing, and is not the one originally booked by Broadbent. That one was in the hotel they'd enjoyed staying at decades earlier, but Duncan, on seeing it, instantly chucks a fit. 'It is beige', she declares, as if this is a mortal sin. She hails a taxi and sets off, first to roar round and round Paris, hurling euros at the driver, and then to find the most expensive suite the city can provide instead. The one she settles on carries the recommendation that it has been slept in by Tony Blair  - 'so long as they've changed the sheets since', is Broadbent's only response to this information.

Clearly, Broadbent has poor judgment - as well as deciding to marry Duncan thirty years ago and allowing her walk all over him now, he has also managed to lose his job as a lecturer at a second rate university for saying something really stupid and pretty unpleasant -  'If you put as much effort into your studies as you do into your hair you might stand a better chance of escaping your origins' - to a black female student.

He reveals this fact at the couple's first meal in Paris - (and, incidentally, I found it a bit annoying that at all meals in restaurants the couple sat next to each other, rather than facing each other; obviously this is ideal for cameramen, but most people don't do that, so it seemed a bit contrived).  Supposedly, Nick/Broadbent has been told to take early retirement, which strains credibility a bit, since he looks to me as though he's fairly ready to be put out to pasture with no early about it, (what is the retirement age in Great Britain, I wonder).

The couple meander about Paris, bickering. They go to a very pricey restaurant and run away without paying for their meal, (Meg's caper). They bicker some more. They make a complete shambles of Tony Blair's hotel room. By chance, they encounter a successful celebro-academic American, played by Jeff Goldblum, whom Broadbent knew at Cambridge.

Like Meg/Duncan, the American is vain and grasping, but he does at least have the good manners to admit as much. He is also full of a Woody Allenesque sort of neurotic energy, which I found refreshing after the dishwater dreariness of the English characters. If a climax is precipitated - and perhaps fittingly, just as in the couple's bedroom, so in their portrayal on the screen, it is unclear whether any climax is really reached - it is through the arrival of Goldblum in the film. Nick makes some kind of statement about what he believes in. Later he repudiates his son. Whether because of the former or the latter, Meg and he are reconciled. They are also broke. The New World eventually comes to the rescue. The titles roll.

Perhaps I was in a particularly Presbyterian frame of mind but I came away from the film wondering how it was possible that all these people who had been endowed with such enormous good fortune - relative wealth, the ability to travel where they liked, et cetera et cetera - could not notice that they were incredibly lucky. Their sense of entitlement was almost decadent, it seemed to me. On the other hand, I found the final scene in which the three main characters jive in some kind of homage to Jean Luc Godard rather charming.

On a positive note, the music was good and the film itself was very nice to look at throughout. The problem was, for me at least, that I could find no reason at all to care about the central characters. Meg was too flawed and Nick, by contrast, too saintly. The combination amounted to something that seemed without insight and really rather dull.  an adjective you would never attach to Weekend, Godard's film after which, presumably Le Weekend is partly named. It's years since I've seen Weekend - first year of university in fact, when Dr Colin Crisp, a really great teacher and film scholar, (I wish he would write more in the papers or appear on the ABC to talk about movies) - ran a French cinema course within the French department at ANU. I hated it then but it was at least interesting enough to make me prepared to give it a second go - I'm not sure Le Weekend will stand the same test of time.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

La Grande Bellezza

Beautiful, yes, (obviously - it's in the title). Loopy, yes. Inconsequential, possibly. Enjoyable, mainly; amusing in its satire of contemporary art, high society and senior Catholic clergy; rather touching at moments, as when the main character outlines his view of what friends do for one another; interesting linguistically, in that a) the English translation given when two males are talking about a woman they don't like is 'bitch', whereas the Italian soundtrack has the non-gender specific 'stronzo' and b) the phrase 'high society' is expressed in Italian by 'mondanita', which links more directly with what the film may be trying to examine - that is the worldly as opposed to the unknown.

La Grande Bellezza probably isn't as clever as it may wish to be - everything's a trick, life is too complex for any one individual to understand, these are not sentiments that are new or hugely profound - but it is very lovely to look at, (and the main character is the living embodiment of a natty gent - no Englishman could get away with some of his outfits, but they are wonderful [and his apartment, overlooking the Colosseum, I never even knew it was possible to live there {it probably isn't}]).

If you like Fellini, the film should appeal to you - indeed, if you've always wanted to see a sequel to La Dolce Vita, some have suggested that that is exactly what La Grande Bellezza  is.  For me it was more like Of Time and the City - inevitably, being Italian rather than Liverpudlian, completely lacking that film's solemnity, (and all the better for it).

I wouldn't have missed La Grande Bellezza, despite its faults. Sometimes the best works of arts are the most overblown, far from perfect but spectacular and never boring. La Grande Bellezza is definitely spectacular and too much fun ever to be dull. If you do go to see it, do not miss the final sequence over which the final titles roll. Shot from the perspective of a boat drifting down the Tiber, these last images establish everything that's gone before within the wider context of Rome and its past.


Thanks to Nebraska, I am no longer allowed to choose the movies we go to see. I read about the film in The Economist - the last time I ever trust their film reviewer - and persuaded others in my household that we were going to have a really great night out.

Hah. How in heaven's name did this film win the Palme d'Or at Cannes? Okay some of the rural scenes and characters were uncanny contemporary embodiments of American Gothic, but is that really such a great achievement? Especially when you set against it the fact that the acting is terrible, the script is heavy-handed - the mother's character, particularly in the scene in the graveyard, appears to be the product of a deep loathing of women - and nothing that might be spelt out is not spelt out.

There were a few laughs, it's true - I liked the sight of the two brothers racing out of a barn with a stolen compressor. On the other hand, a lot of the attempts at humour struck me as mere sneers from the creative classes at the proletariat. The sequence in which Bruce Dern drives like a ghost down the main street of his home town was rather lovely and oddly eery; I will admit that as well. But it wasn't enough.

Leaving aside the lousy acting, (maybe it was deliberate and everyone but us understood that it was some kind of mannerism, and not just embarrassingly amateur???), and the script that slammed home its points with disrespectful force, the trouble for me was twofold and oddly paradoxical. First, the film fancied itself as a critique of American capitalism - in the same subtle way that Stalinist era movies did. Second, its conclusion affirmed the universal healing powers of Ford trucks.

The Past

The Past tells the story of a few days in the life of Ahmad, an Iranian who returns from Iran to France to finalise his divorce. His wife, Marie, who works in a chemist's shop, is involved with Samir. Samir runs a drycleaner's and, it turns out, has a wife who is in a coma, having tried to commit suicide by drinking drycleaning fluid. On one level, the film is a whodunnit about how the wife came to do such a dreadful thing.

Soon after Ahmad arrives at his wife's house, the drycleaner's young son, aged about seven, deliberately knocks over a large tin of housepaint and goes on to have a tantrum. Marie, in good French parenting - and step-parenting, apparently - fashion, yells abuse at him and wrestles him into his room, locking the door behind him. Meanwhile, Marie's two daughters welcome Ahmad, who, it seems, was for seven or eight years a stand-in father for them, (their own father lives in Belgium and his new wife is, according to one of the girls, 'a bit weird;').

The older of the two has been behaving in a way that Marie is frustrated by. Towards her mother, she's been surly, difficult, moody and distant. She mentions to Ahmad that during her lifetime Marie has formed relationships with three different men and none of them have lasted. This is something she does not like. Shortly afterwards she disappears. When Ahmad finds her, all begins to be revealed.

The trouble is, the filmmakers do not manage to make any of this saga particularly engaging, (although, on a very basic level, it pleased me to see the characters living in untidy houses with nothing new or plastic in sight, full instead of battered furniture, much of which looked as if it had been reclaimed from the tip).

The actress who plays Marie is beautiful, but frustratingly irresponsible and quite unwilling to look at events in context. She dismisses the past, possibly because she does not want to contemplate the effect her actions may have on those around her, particularly her own children. Ahmad is almost ridiculously gentle, wise, reasonable and nice, (ie maddening, long term, I'd imagine - he also seems unable to sit in a car that is driven by a woman).

Samir is, thanks to Tahar Rahim, the actor who plays him, absurd - and somewhat rigid in his insistence on right and wrong when disciplining his son, (I think we are probably supposed to judge him badly for this, but I just found his behaviour confusing, since child rearing is an area where I am never certain what is for the best). There is a blurred quality to Rahim's features, a kind of softness and immovability - surely he hasn't been getting at the botox? -that gives him only one expression: the slightly sad and puzzled look of a misused teddy bear.

Nothing much is resolved by the end of the film. Ahmad retreats to Iran. It is unclear whether he would prefer not to have divorced. Marie has refused to listen to his explanation of why he left in the first place. Samir mooches around his wife's hospital bed, wondering if she is still there - a conversation with his younger son earlier quite cleverly canvasses some of the questions that keeping someone on life support raises.

Possibly Marie is for Samir a proxy for his wife. Possibly Samir is a proxy for Ahmad for Marie. Possibly everyone is making a mess of everything - and I don't even want to think about the implication I detected that women, once they have children, should not have subsequent relationships, (from a child's point of view, this may well be true - but only as true as it is that once a man has children he should not, which was not something I picked up with equal force).

If the film is supposed to be a piece of realism, Samir lets the side down by not fully fleshing out his character and the character of Ahmad fails by being more like a saint than an actual human being. If the film is a parable then what does the story of this group of characters blundering on through life, unenlightened by reflection, their actions unexamined, tell us? We may be able to piece together something from their narrative, as watchers, but neither they nor we live in an observant manner. Instead of studying our past for lessons about how to improve our existence, we hurtle into the future, never stopping to reflect. Around us, time flows on, full of the flotsam of our mistakes.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Coriolanus at the Donmar

First of all, may I just mention - and this is addressed most particularly to the organisers at NT Live - that, before I see the play I've come to see, I do not need Emma Freud gushing about the cast or the script or whatever else comes into her artfully tousled head. I do not need to watch any of the actors opining about anything, least of all, without any supporting argument, about how Fascism is on the rise everywhere, throughout the entire world.  I do not need to watch the costume designer flicking through her Ipad full of 'research' about ancient Rome either.

What is more, I do not need, after the interval - just to thoroughly destroy whatever tiny skerrick of atmosphere might still exist after fifteen minutes in the popcorn-reeking multiplex foyer - Emma Freud popping up again to patronise me for a few more minutes nor Josie Rourke, the director, informing me that protests at the beginning of the play about the cost of grain can be compared directly to today's electricity price discontent.

Apart from anything else Coriolanus is quite a long play. And having it explained beforehand that the theatre it's being performed in was once a banana warehouse doesn't make it any shorter.

So what of the production itself? Leaving aside that, by the time it actually began, my nerves were jangled with the onslaught of pre-film loviness whipped up by the Freud woman, it was magnificent - and also rather bad.

What was magnificent was the performance of Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus. His voice control is extraordinary. His movement and general, for want of a better phrase, emotional intelligence was breathtaking.

Unfortunately, a lot of his colleagues, particularly those in the smaller parts, were badly directed and choreographed. The opening scene was actually cringe-making - the overwrought gestures and expressions of one of the actors in particular seemed to have been imported from some other, more stylised form of theatre - Kabuki perhaps? - or maybe that's just what we used to call 'overacting.'

The part of Coriolanus's mother is one of the great theatrical roles for mature women. In this production, it seemed to me that the actress never quite caught the rhythm of her lines. It also struck me that she acted with her hands and her upper body, rather than moving freely. As a result, she remained too static, plonking herself in front of her son and wringing her hands and gurning in a boringly repetitive way

Mark Gatiss was not bad as Menenius. I dislike his simpering, but that's my problem. A great deal of the time he gave the words more or less their due, and that is ultimately what is required of an actor of Shakespeare. It's a difficult role because it teeters on the edge of comedy, but the play is not comic and therefore it cannot really be played for laughs.

Coriolanus's wife, Virgilia, is an even more unrewarding part than that of Menenius. The Danish actress who was cast in the role did her best to create something from lines that portray her as little more than a cypher but seems to have been ill-advised by her director, who may have been trying to beef up the character. For instance, at the end of Scene III, Virgilia, in this production, delivers the line, "I wish you much mirth" in a manner that suggests she has suddenly become possessed by a demon, which gives one a jolt. However, she then reverts to demure blonde bombshell for much of the rest of the play.

The staging itself seemed to me to be very much a result of the limitations of the Donmar theatre itself. If I'd been one of the actors, I might have resented the amount of time I had to sit extraordinarily still at the back of the stage, which is what all the players had to do, some for very long periods, when they were not involved in the action. I distrusted the use of very loud, bass beat music between scenes, as I thought it was added to try to whip up the audience's emotion, when it became clear that the production might not be as gripping as had been hoped.

Josie Rourke indicated in the interview Emma Freud had with her before the second half, (during which there was much girlie squealing from the two of them about Kiddleston's apparent 'sexiness' - as my companion pointed out, if they had been two men discussing a woman in similar terms, they'd have been in big trouble), that as far as she was concerned Coriolanus was a bad person and the play was a warning about leaders who didn't respect 'the people'.

I think the view we are given of 'the people' in the play is very far from totally approbatory - for instance, when Volumnia says "the eyes of the ignorant [are]/ More learned than the ears" it seems to me that Shakespeare is being both critical and extraordinarily prescient about our visual age, (although possibly Rourke's reading would cast Volumnia as a hateful patrician vilely disparaging the people as ignorant). In fact, the play strikes me, (not that I actually know a tremendous amount about these things), as one of Shakespeare's most complex. In this context, one element of this production that intrigued me was the way in which on two or three occasions there seemed to be visual allusion in Kiddleston's posture and the way he was lit to Old Master depictions of Christ's final hours. If these were intentional, the analogy raises interesting ideas.

Coriolanus is a fascinating play. Hiddleston shows himself in this film to be a truly wonderful actor. Rourke does not show herself to be a wonderful director. All in all, the thing was a curate's egg.