Some years ago, on a visit to one of the countries carved from the ruins of Yugoslavia, I asked a friend, a sensitive writer who had just agreed to take a government position, how he could endure serving the thug who headed the state. He looked at me. “Our murderers,” he said with a thin smile, “are better than their murderers.” Ralph Fiennes’s new film of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus conjures up a Balkan world of jostling murderers, though it is not clear that one is better than another.
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