The Merchant of Venice

User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 39 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 39
  2. Negative: 5 out of 39

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User Reviews

  1. KavehP.
    Jan 4, 2005
    10
    'The best' Shakespearean movie I have ever seen. It is truly a shame that just because of lack of advertisment, people don't vote!
  2. [Anonymous]
    May 15, 2005
    10
    Beautifuly executed, and bravely dealing with issues of predjudice in a compelling and in my opinion true to the intentions of Shakespeare's work. Fantastic performances from Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and a fun Joseph Fiennes.
  3. JulieL.
    Jun 10, 2005
    7
    Pacino's performance is so stunning, and his Shylock so sympathetic, that you wonder what all the other simple-minded dopes are prancing around about. Jeremy Irons, who is so much better than Hollywood lets him be, continues to agonize about his pinched and naked flesh, and the thwarted lovers are just boring. By the end scene, with all the revelations about hidden identities, and Pacino's performance is so stunning, and his Shylock so sympathetic, that you wonder what all the other simple-minded dopes are prancing around about. Jeremy Irons, who is so much better than Hollywood lets him be, continues to agonize about his pinched and naked flesh, and the thwarted lovers are just boring. By the end scene, with all the revelations about hidden identities, and the giggling "Aha's!", all I wanted to do was see where Pacino had gone and how Shylock was doing. Problem is, the play only works if Shylock really deserves his fate and is disliked - and the movie doesn't quite work because Pacino is SO good. But if you can enjoy Pacino's powerful portrayal of a much more sympathetic Shylock, and the absolutely gorgeous costuming and scenes of Venice, then it will certainly be worth any modest DVD rental price. Expand
  4. ElizabethC.
    Jan 10, 2005
    8
    That "Merchant" is a difficult story for our politically correct times is a given. Shakespeare's most difficult character, Shylock, is beautifully rendered by Al Pacino who has specialized successfully in obsessed, if not hateful characters, i.e. Roy Cohen in "Angels in America". The movie is visually sumptuous, brings Shakespear's English to our unacustomed ears without dumbing That "Merchant" is a difficult story for our politically correct times is a given. Shakespeare's most difficult character, Shylock, is beautifully rendered by Al Pacino who has specialized successfully in obsessed, if not hateful characters, i.e. Roy Cohen in "Angels in America". The movie is visually sumptuous, brings Shakespear's English to our unacustomed ears without dumbing it down, and presents 16th century Venice as one of the dramatic characters in a way the Old Globe, nor any theatre stage could do as well. Expand
  5. ColmanK.
    Jan 23, 2005
    10
    Surely everyone knows by now that M.o.V is deeply problematic, and its anti-semitism is most offensive. This version is nearly perfect, though. The acting, by all, is brilliant- their clarity of enunciation, rhythm of speech and emotional power are overwhelming: the settings are beautiful, and the overall depiction of the period in which the play is set is flawless. Only Branagh's Surely everyone knows by now that M.o.V is deeply problematic, and its anti-semitism is most offensive. This version is nearly perfect, though. The acting, by all, is brilliant- their clarity of enunciation, rhythm of speech and emotional power are overwhelming: the settings are beautiful, and the overall depiction of the period in which the play is set is flawless. Only Branagh's Henry V comes close, as a stage play brought to life on film. Expand
  6. PatrickS.
    Mar 28, 2005
    8
    A brilliant adaptation of one of Shakespeares most contreversial, yet uneventful plays. Pacino is the fire that creates depth to a rather dull script.
  7. RichardB.
    Sep 22, 2005
    9
    This is an extraordinarily difficult play to produce. This production will literally set the bar for the 21st Century. Pacino is unforgettable, the casting is accurate generally, the photography inspired. Stunning.
  8. RoyK.
    Feb 15, 2005
    7
    Visually gorgeous -- a fine depiction of Renaissance Venice. Loved the music. Not as wild as most critics about Pacino's performance. Seemed overly internalized.
  9. SJennings
    Mar 12, 2005
    9
    Intriguing and beautiful, Pacino engagingly renders a social outcast struggleing for dignity and befallen in mistfortune and vengeful. Yes the plot is perhaps antisemetic, NO MORE SO THAN the original widely taught MASTERPIECE, this particular version seems to handle the conflicts of religion well, noting the historical significance of the prejudice Jews in Europe faced, and seemingly Intriguing and beautiful, Pacino engagingly renders a social outcast struggleing for dignity and befallen in mistfortune and vengeful. Yes the plot is perhaps antisemetic, NO MORE SO THAN the original widely taught MASTERPIECE, this particular version seems to handle the conflicts of religion well, noting the historical significance of the prejudice Jews in Europe faced, and seemingly attempting to corral a genuine sympathy for Shylock's position, not as Jew or anything but as a wounded human being and father, allowing for a new and sincere take on the period work. Expand
  10. MarkB.
    Apr 21, 2005
    7
    It shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody that, while three major film adaptations of William Shakespeare's Hamlet have seen U.S. release in the past 15 years, nobody to my knowledge has tried a film version of his most controversial and problematic play--until now. It's also no shock that Michael Radford, a filmmaker known both for seizing opportunities and taking It shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody that, while three major film adaptations of William Shakespeare's Hamlet have seen U.S. release in the past 15 years, nobody to my knowledge has tried a film version of his most controversial and problematic play--until now. It's also no shock that Michael Radford, a filmmaker known both for seizing opportunities and taking chances, is the one who finally brought it to the screen. (He was prescient enough to remake George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1984, and his 1991 multiple Oscar nominee Il Postino was enough of a mainstream foreign-language hit to pave the way for such non-English-speaking smashes as Life Is Beautiful and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon a few years later.) You simply can't get around the truth that this piece--as entertaining and suspenseful as it unquestionably is, and as much gorgeous romantic poetry as it features--is as unapologetically anti-Semitic as D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation is racist. (Let's hope that neither Radford nor anyone else tries to remake THAT one!) It didn't help matters very much that I saw this in a theater the same weekend that I rewatched both The Life of Emile Zola and Schindler's List on DVD, but the reality is that Shakespeare's audience wasn't ours, and this material was as unquestioningly accepted in its day as were Stepin Fetchit's and Willie Best's hideously written distortions of African-American men were in otherwise often very good Hollywood films of the 1930s and early 1940s. Other than including a brief prologue that explains some of the historic context, and shows Jewish moneylender Shylock being ostracized (and worse) by the larger community, Radford doesn't try to modify or apologize for the material, so the ball is mostly in Al Pacino's court. He responds with a portrayal of Shylock that's deeply empathetic and richly full-bodied--but, compared to his work in, say, Scarface and Devil's Advocate, quite effectively subtle and restrained. Perhaps the key to enduring, if not completely enjoying Merchant in these times lies not in political correctness but in pop psychology: as Richard Carlson and Dr. Phil would undoubtedly (and accurately) point out, Pacino's Shylock's bitterness, however justified, runs so deep that in the final analysis he's totally incapable of ever being happy, peaceful or satisfied whether he gets his pound of flesh (or anything else) or not, so maybe it's best for the law to resolve the situation with as little total damage as possible. If you can watch Radford's Merchant of Venice from that standpoint, perhaps it's possible to appreciate it for what it is: a remarkably handsome presentation of a clever, engrossing courtroom drama. Expand
  11. Nov 14, 2010
    10
    Sorry, machine translation.

    Mario Praz. "No eye has a jew? It has no hands, organs, limbs, senses, affections, passions? Not nourished by food? He does not feel the wounds? He is not subject to the ills? Summer and winter are not hot and cold for a jew as a Christian? If you prick us, do not do blood? Do not die if you poison us? So, if we offended and abused, we should not think of
    Sorry, machine translation.

    Mario Praz.

    "No eye has a jew? It has no hands, organs, limbs, senses, affections, passions? Not nourished by food? He does not feel the wounds? He is not subject to the ills? Summer and winter are not hot and cold for a jew as a Christian? If you prick us, do not do blood? Do not die if you poison us? So, if we offended and abused, we should not think of revenge? If you are the same for the rest, well want to look like this! If a Christian is offended by a jew, as he shows his famous charity? With revenge! And if a Christian offends a jew, as these may prove to be tolerant if not, his example, in revenge? I did nothing but build on the villainy you teach me that, and will be very difficult for me to stay below the masters. "Shylock

    Tragedy, comedy, tragicomedy? I leave you to decide. One thing is certain, the list of the works of Shakespeare in 1623, insert, The Merchant of Venice, among the comedies. This collection is called the First Folio. I do not participate in the drawing rooms of the learned Wednesday night at the royal residence of Margaret of Savoy (1851-1926), nor are Bilderbergers. My intention is to create a little 'interest in young people, for an author, Shakespeare, who has a wonderful talent. Arouses curiosity through its beautiful and colorful characters.
    The curiosity, the passions, are also born by chance. And so, one day, by chance, I find myself in your hands a book of the History of English Literature at a certain Mario Praz (Rome, September 6, 1896 - Rome, March 23, 1982) unanimously considered the best (I discover, , as an adult), after reading a few pages sparks. I think that curiosity can also be caused, induced. Come on teachers, better go to the movies that "drugs or alcohol." Hashish, Cocaine, Heroin, Ecstasy, Kobret, Popper, Beer, **** Primer, bottled alcohol, try to replace them with Shylock, Antonio, Bassanio, Portia and so on. From young adult, I find again that the prof. Mario Praz get awards and titles.
    These include:

    1957 received the Honorary Doctorate in Letters conferred by the University of Cambridge;
    1960 he was sworn to Venice International Venice Film Festival;
    1962 by Queen Elizabeth II gets the title of Knight Commander of the British Empire.
    And much more. An Italian who writes the best English literature. Sorry if it is little. The director Michael Radford, bolstered by a strong cast, led by a text driven, has created a masterpiece. Why not take advantage? I invite the young, old, film lovers to the vision of this work. I extend the same invitation to teachers of all levels. You will not regret. I hope.

    Synopsis.

    The characters are all likeable. Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes) is a noble, young, instinctive and impetuous, and too wasteful in love. Who? But Portia (Lynn Collins). The fair Portia lives in Belmont and that's where Bassanio must show all his skills, thinking, speaking, in deciding. A great mystery, to be resolved, it expects ...
    Bassanio, is now penniless, to reach his goal he needed money, lots of money. What to do? Here's the idea, why not turn to Antonio? (Jeremy Irons). Bassanio is sure to aid Antonio. Antonio is a merchant. Carries on business in Venice. Most of all, argue that Bassanio and Antonio ... ..., well, I stop. I said, Antonio has all his fortune at sea. In fact, his "Ragusin" or "Dubrovnik", so called the great Venetian galleys, on the road. So, no, at the time, hard cash. Who can claim him? Shylock! (Al Pacino), he can. Shylock is a jew devoted wear. He lives with his community in a "ghetto". The term ghetto was coined in that period. Anthony also makes loans, but unlike Shylock .... . This thing of loans and many more of Antonio, Shylock does not go down.
    Do you think that one day, for that reason, Shylock is derived a spit in the face of Anthony. Shylock has a reaction ... but think that maybe .... And think about it. Seize the opportunity to have Antonio as its debtor. Devises a daring and bizarre plan for its money does not pretend money, but .... Of course all this if at the end, Antonio, does not return the full amount.
    Antonio, to finance the project from Bassano, accept these strange conditions, before an official signing the contract.
    Bassano has the opportunity to travel to Belmont with Graziano (Kris Marshall).
    Meanwhile in Belmont, Portia is faced with three .... , And the suitors come to try to solve the mystery set up by his father before his death.

    Meanwhile, Shylock's daughter Jessica (Zuleikha Robinson) runs off with Bassanio's friend Lorenzo (Charlie Cox), brings with it .... . For Shylock, this is too much. Among other things, Lawrence is a ... (end of part one)
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  12. Mar 31, 2013
    8
    If you wanna see films where bad things happen to people, watch a Shakespeare film! His work is so well known it is integrated in daily Western culture. The expresion 'getting your pound of flesh' will be allot more clear after you've seen this movie. Superb acting all round and allthough Pacino struggles a bit with the old english accent he delivers an exellent Shylock. Lynn Collins (aIf you wanna see films where bad things happen to people, watch a Shakespeare film! His work is so well known it is integrated in daily Western culture. The expresion 'getting your pound of flesh' will be allot more clear after you've seen this movie. Superb acting all round and allthough Pacino struggles a bit with the old english accent he delivers an exellent Shylock. Lynn Collins (a native Texan) is brilliant as Portia, a young woman wise beyond her years. This 30m$ flick unsurprisingly bombed at the boxoffice, but I'm sure it'll get a deserved 2nd life on DVD and BD. Expand
  13. Jwv
    Jan 17, 2014
    7
    This is a great popularized and verbally simplified version of Shakespeare for a wide audience with a top-notch cast. Especially Al Pacino's performance is genuinely moving, in his assuming the role of an embittered and torn old man, with superior feel for emotional shift and outstanding voice-acting. Lynn Collins also convinces with a good performance. The soundtrack is likable, light andThis is a great popularized and verbally simplified version of Shakespeare for a wide audience with a top-notch cast. Especially Al Pacino's performance is genuinely moving, in his assuming the role of an embittered and torn old man, with superior feel for emotional shift and outstanding voice-acting. Lynn Collins also convinces with a good performance. The soundtrack is likable, light and strangely enchanting, and the scenery is beautiful.

    The movie does a great job of complicating the character of Shylock, and makes the viewer question his role as a victim or a villain. In the end, nobody will feel unmoved by the truly excellent and genuinely poignant court scene.

    The courting prices are shallow stereotypes and constitute the only kind of (unintentional) humour this otherwise dry movie brings. I do not understand the choice of not giving the play-appropriated importance and weight in consequence to the casket-scenes. This is strange, since the movie is clearly a dramatized version of the play, and else there is not much that distinguishes Portia from a common harlot when every man can come make his suit without consequence. It saddens me to see the superficiality of these scenes, because Shakespeare did provide more complex and sympathetic characters in the original.
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  14. Jul 14, 2015
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Exceptional interpretation, this version has made The Merchant of Venice one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. Small details in between the dialogue make big differences to the dramatic relations between the characters. Especially the final scene. Pacino is a great Shylock as well - tragic, not comical. Expand
Metascore
63

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 35
  2. Negative: 2 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    10
    The single worst Shakespeare film ever made.
  2. Pacino gives a keenly measured performance, leading an excellent British cast through their paces in a richly colorful production that should please selective audiences and adds to the list of major film adaptations of Shakespeare's work.
  3. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    70
    Despite a series of disclaimers about the treatment of Jews in the 16th century, there's even less disguising onscreen than onstage that this is an uncomfortably anti-Semitic play and somewhat problematic for contempo audiences.