The Merchant Of Venice

  • Year:2009
  • Rating:M
  • Director:Michael Radford
  • Cast:Joseph Fiennes, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino
  • Release Date:June 11, 2009
  • Distributor:Arkles
  • Running time:90 minutes
  • Film Worth:$13.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

“…a cracking production…”

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Anyone who saw Al Pacino in his self-financed and directed docudrama Looking For Richard will know what a Shakespeare nut this iconic American actor is. In that film, he comes across as being nearly as mad as the infamous king that he portrays. English director Michael Radford (Il Postino, White Mischief), however, has gotten a very different performance from the great actor here.

This 2004 adaptation has taken a while to hit our screens. Perhaps it is because the female lead, Lynn Collins (as Portia), is poised to step into the big time with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Perhaps it's the material itself. The Merchant Of Venice is really one of Shakespeare's problem plays: it's very dark, and no one comes out of it well.

Jewish money lender Shylock is by far the most interesting character in the play, and he is bitter and twisted and finally humiliated. Pacino manages to lose his New York twang and gangsterish truculence, inhabiting the role in his own riveting way. We see what an actor's actor Pacino can be: he's careful and watchful; respectful of other actors' timing; and says his lines perfectly, resisting all temptation to grandstand. Jeremy Irons (an actor some find wooden) is a good strong foil as Antonio, and the scenes between the two really sizzle.

Director Radford has also done well with the feel and locations. He uses Venice so well, rarely choosing to "open it out", but rather films the set pieces in shadowy vaulted chambers as cold and stony as the dialogue.

This is a cracking production and, despite being in the original dialogue, it is neatly trimmed to a satisfying 90 minutes of intense drama.

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