© Sony Pictures Releasing GmbH

Der Kaufmann von Venedig (The Merchant of Venice)
U.S.A./Italy/Luxembourg/U.K. 2004

Opening 21 Apr 2005

Directed by: Michael Radford
Writing credits: William Shakespeare, Michael Radford
Principal actors: Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes, Lynn Collins, Zuleikha Robinson

Michael Radford (Il Postino), who directed the film and wrote the script for this exceptional production of Shakespeare’s best comedy, has given us a rare gift: a nuanced, subtle film with an ensemble cast of excellent actors and one utterly exceptional performance, that of Al Pacino as Shylock. Pacino disappears entirely into the role and what emerges is a fully evolved Shylock, with all his fears, anger and hatred, and the heritage of abuse he has suffered over the years from his fellow citizens in Venice. By the end of the film your repulsion toward Shylock and his demand for that famous pound of flesh has been transmuted into sadness and sympathy for the forces which shaped this bitter man, even as you are applauding the clever Portia and her victory. The genius of Radford’s slow-paced, suspense-filled direction makes the ambiguities of this least comic of Shakespeare’s comedies clear to the audience. And never has the Elizabethan language been so comprehensible. Radford has his actors speak in modern conversational rhythms which somehow do not detract from, or misuse in the slightest, Shakespeare’s poetic verses. The film, which also brings us a stellar performance from Jeremy Irons, was shot entirely in Venice, lending a sumptuous beauty and authenticity to the production. If there are any caveats, it would only be with the performance of Lynn Collins as Portia, who seems somewhat amateurish and without the charisma of the other talented actors in this extraordinary film. (Adele Riepe)

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