The Merchant Of Venice

The Merchant Of Venice


First seeing the light of day elsewhere in 2004 but insanely overlooked here in NZ at the time, this faithful rendering of Shakespeare’s 16th Century Venetian drama about a bit of money-lending gone gruesomely sour is finally getting a theatrical release. Features a cast of such luminaries as Al Pacino (playing Shylock), Jeremy Irons (as Antonio) and Joseph Fiennes (Bassiano. Director Michael Radford is best known for being Oscar nominated in 1994 for Il Postino.

Flicks Review

With such star power in its cast, it’s strange this didn’t get an NZ release at first. But then, as Shakespeare adaptations go, it is a tricky one to truly get into. ... More

Neither the sexiest, nor most thrilling of the bard’s tales, it’s an oddly double-sided mix of legal drama and comic romance, but it does revolve around a character study of one of his most hotly debated creations – Jewish money lender Shylock. And for those interested in such things, Pacino’s weasley take on the man responsible for the immortal demand of a pound of his rival’s flesh provides more fuel for argument. To feel for him or not to feel for him – that is the question.

Jeremy Irons plays said rival – Antonio (the title’s Venetian merchant) – but he takes something of a back seat while Pacino does the dramatic driving. Meanwhile, smoothie Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare In Love) takes charge of the romantic segments, wooing the lovely Portia (Lynn Collins), while British sit-com favourite Kris Marshall adds comedy as his bumbling buddy Gratiano.

All of this occurs amidst evocative scenes of Venice and Belmont, and with the kind of attention to period detail you’d expect from a film with such a pedigree. But it’s undoubtedly a Shakespeare adap best suited to serious Shakespeare fans.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

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Not always a fan of modern Shakespeare, I loved this, because it wasnb't brought into the modern era. I loved everything about it - a great opportunity to introduce youngsters to the great master of theatre.

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The Press Reviews

  • Distinguished, handsome and satisfying account of a vexed play. Full Review

  • Director/screenwriter Michael Radford and Pacino humanised Shylock, investing the often two-dimensional "villain" of the story with more emotional depth than his character's used to. Full Review

  • A strong cast swirls around Pacino, though it's really his show. The costumes are stunning, the locations beautifully photographed. Radford has created a lush 16th century Venice. Full Review

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