The Merchant of Venice (2004) - * HIDDEN GEM *
Genre: Drama (USA, Italy, Luxembourg, UK)
Starring: Al Pacino (Serpico; Dog Day Afternoon), Jeremy Irons (Lolita; The Lion King)
Directed By: Michael Radford (1984; Dancing At The Blue Iguana)
Overview: A Venetian Christian agrees to a strange loan agreement with a Jew: 3000 ducats, if not repaid on time paid by a pound of flesh. This classic tale also includes the strange test for the betrothal of Porche.
Acting: The performance of Irons seemed a touch melodrama, but I'm sure the director had a lot to do with that. As for Shylock, I think the director left the perfection that is Pacino untouched. His portrayal was melodramatic, but it really seemed that the character necessitated it. Pacino is really impressing me these days and he bumps this film up a full two notches.
Cinematography: The shots of Venice and the costumes and the slow pans; real well done, and lends so much weight to the overall effect of the film. Amazing.
Script: Seriously, it's Shakespeare. It's bound to be good right? And in a way your expectations are elevated. Some of his plays are confusing, filled with doubt as to the meaning of the words, of the scenes, but this was a good adaptation, especially in the climax and the end. The Bard has a way of making sure that every line is poetry. Granted, that was his specialty, and he is immortal for it.
Plot: I found the climactic scene to be a touch long and in the end it would seem that a Jew so focused on the law would know it a little better than to endanger his wealth and his life for a bond, for an agreement. Shakespeare obviously threw a touch of realism out the window for the sake of drama, but really good overall.
Mood: The costumes and the spitting in Jew eyes and the weight of everything Shylock touched...Inspiring. It's no wonder every actor wants to do Shakespeare. The director faces quite the challenge when it comes to The Bard insofar that it is very difficult to ruin. When it comes to mood however, the mood can be wrecked quickly because of such expectation. I commend the director in this, and he made it work, and the foreign suitors added to it all.