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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Titus

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange
Director: Julie Taymor
Rated: NR
RunTime: 140 Minutes
Release Date: February 2000
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Laura Fraser, Angus McFadyen, James Frain, Kenny Doughty, Colm Feore, Harry J. Lennix, Alan Cumming, Osheen Jones

Review by MrBrown
3 stars out of 4

If you thought Baz Luhrmann's radical take on _William_Shakespeare's_Romeo_+_Juliet_ was wild, wait until what you see what Tony Award-winning stage director Julie Taymor (_The_Lion_King:_The_Broadway_Musical_) does to the Bard's _Titus_Andronicus_ for her audacious--and very bloody--film debut. While Luhrmann transplanted the star-crossed lovers to 1990s Florida, Taymor keeps this grisly tale of revenge in Rome--but places it in a surreal temporal limbo. The Colosseum suggests the proper time of Imperial Rome, but high rises and heavy duty kitchen ovens suggest the 1990s, while the vintage automobiles and some costumes are more '40s and '50s, and other garments are more gladiator-like. As Tamora, Queen of Goths (Jessica Lange) exacts revenge on Roman general Titus (Anthony Hopkins) for killing her eldest son, and he does the same to her for the wrongs she commits, Taymor obviously wanted to express the timeless relevance of the story's underlying themes. However, the time convergence approach only works at times, for often it's just distracting, as in one scene where Tamora's suviving sons (Matthew Rhys and Jonathan Rhys Meyers) blow off steam playing video arcade games.

Taymor didn't have to resort to such avant garde time tricks, for the story would have resonated just as strongly had she jettisoned them. She is a strong storyteller and a master visual stylist, the latter compliment encompassing all areas, makeup and costume choices as well as those in the editing and photography departments. She also has a sure way with actors; Hopkins' Titus is at once tragic and horrifying, and Lange is sultry as the viperous Tamora. The clear standout of the cast, however, is Harry Lennix as Aaron, a Moor who is Tamora's secret lover and a schemer in his own right. Lennix brings great depth to a role that could have easily been played as a stock villain. A great villain he indeed is, but to leave it at that isn't giving full justice to his powerful and multi-dimensional work. _Titus_ isn't a complete success, but it is never less than fascinating, and it announces the arrival of a fearlessly imaginative new cinematic voice.

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