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William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (2004)

tomatometer

72

Average Rating: 6.7/10
Reviews Counted: 124
Fresh: 89 | Rotten: 35

A respectable if uneven take on the Bard's The Merchant of Venice.

65

Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 40
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 14

A respectable if uneven take on the Bard's The Merchant of Venice.

audience

72

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 19,677

My Rating

Movie Info

One of William Shakespeare's most powerful comedies has been given a bold cinematic adaptation in this film version of The Merchant of Venice. Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes) is a young and vital member of the aristocratic classes in 16th century Italy; however, Bassanio's impulsive nature and lavish lifestyle have put him deeply in debt, and he will need at least the pretense of a fortune if he is to win the hand of the beautiful Portia (Lynn Collins). Bassanio turns to his close friend Antonio

May 10, 2005

$3.8M

Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (127) | Top Critics (41) | Fresh (89) | Rotten (35) | DVD (20)

Pacino is at least dynamic, something harder to say about the women in the cast.

July 4, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is Al Pacino's show, and thankfully his Shylock is absorbing enough to carry the day.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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It tilts so far in one direction that the comic elements seem to come from another, lesser film.

September 26, 2005 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
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Radford has rendered off the comedy to find the dramatic skeleton underneath. It is an approach that works stunningly well and is perhaps the only way the play can now be done.

March 10, 2005 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A vivid, engrossing and defensible Shakespeare adaptation, a period piece that truly has a feel for a time long past -- and a place and attitude that are not.

February 25, 2005 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
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Pacino's stentorian delivery and punctuating hands are almost parodistic, as likely to draw a chuckle as to elicit empathy.

February 18, 2005
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Pacino seeks his pound of flesh as a tragic outsider.

January 3, 2011 Full Review Source: sbs.com.au
sbs.com.au

The text is wonderful, Radford's film has some fine performances from Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes, and he makes good use of Venice locations.

July 10, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

It is really a pleasure to watch a masterful actor like Al Pacino wring every nuance out of the multifarious character of Shylock.

July 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Bangitout.com
Bangitout.com

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.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

A richly cinematic and robust rendition of Shakespeare's pre-political correctness play about the place of Jews in anti-Semitic 16th century Venice, Michael Radford's film takes delight in dramatics thus pulling us into the story.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

It has taken 5 years for Michael Radford's splendid interpretation of Shakespeare's play to come to Australia and it is worth the wait.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

It's the perfect cinematic vehicle -- or at least it would have been, if Radford's adaptation weren't so unremittingly cloddish.

July 4, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Pacino shapes the role masterfully. He not only rises to the role's extremes of villainous melodrama, he fills them, rendering them both theatrical and believable

October 11, 2006
Christianity Today

It veers from real conviction to panto, but Radford is clearly committed to the play's relevance, while Pacino, the Shakespeare addict, is a joy to watch.

April 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Manages to be a gripping and intriguing film.

September 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs
Three Movie Buffs

The screenplay is lean and powerful and the direction deft.

August 7, 2005 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Finally, a filmatic spectacle worthy of the Scribe...

June 16, 2005 Full Review Source: Blunt Review
Blunt Review

With a running time of over two hours, I was ready to pay with a pound of my flesh for The Merchant of Venice to close shop already.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Fantastica Daily
Fantastica Daily

This rendition is hardly a freshman course.

April 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

It remains an exercise of the head, not the heart.

April 10, 2005 Full Review Source: Fresno Bee
Fresno Bee

Merchant of Venice is such a blatantly anti-Semitic work that a modernization seems imprudent.

April 8, 2005 | Comments (3)

Shakespeare needs no special effects or short-sighted novelties. Michael Radford's straightforward telling of The Merchant of Venice does the great play justice.

March 24, 2005
Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

Audience Reviews for William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

This is a true and superb work of art. A fantastic piece of Shakespeare that anyone who is a fan, should see immediately. Director, Michael Radford crafts a beautiful and emotionally gripping masterpiece. A thrilling, engaging and breathtaking movie. It's tastefully romantic, sharply funny and sensationally entertaining. All the performances are in the film are incredible and deserve to be noticed by every audience. Al Pacino is brilliant, he gives one of the best performances of his career and one of the greatest performances given in a film adaptation of Shakespeare's work. Jeremy Irons is terrific. Joseph Fiennes is magnificent. Lynn Collins is a revelation.
November 27, 2013
allan913

Super Reviewer

Saw it last night on DVD and my husband and I are still talking about it this morning: is it anti-Semetic? Can you talk about uncomfortable things without appearing to endorse them? I thought it was beautifully done; Pacino was great as the self-righteous man who looks to the law for his comeuppance and instead finds himself hung by the law--a wonderful take on the fact that the ruling class will always have its way no matter how just your cause. Irons played a somewhat cowardly Antonio...was he like that in the play? Don't remember. Fiennes was singularly unappealing as Bassanio. Wassup with that, Portia? The unbelievable bit of Portia and her maid playing learned (though young and male) doctors from Padua was so hare-brained it was like something out of a Woody Allen film (specifically the part in Sleeper where Diane Keaton and Woody Allen are operating on the dictator's nose), but that's Shakespeare, not Radford, so can't fault the movie.
February 13, 2013
Bathsheba Monk
Bathsheba Monk

Super Reviewer

I've got a bit of a love/hate thing going on when it comes to Shakespeare. The Merchant of Venice is one of his that is in the middle for me though because I don't like the story and It comes under the 'Women pretending to be men' category which is firmly in the 'hate' section but then I really like the character of Shylock. I have always thought the story should end with the court scene and watching it on film only confirms this for me. So in some respects it's an honest adaptation. It looks good most of the time although I spotted a couple of unforgivable fake moustaches (and I don't mean on the women). The acting is also very hit and miss. Jeremy Irons is classically trained and he knows how to do Shakespeare justice, as does John Sessions and a few others who are well practised in the Bards work. Al Pacino's performance is very good to, although I wasn't so sure at first. His does end up being the only good reason to watch though as others stink up Shakespeare to high heaven. Kris Marshall makes it look like a pantomime but then look what happened to his much hyped future career. Joseph Fiennes was obviously cast as a safety net after the success of Shakespeare in Love but his performance was about as safe as an asbestos gum shield. I can only imagine Lynn Collins was cast because Gwyneth Paltrow was busy. Not my favourite Shakespeare play with an equally unlikable film -stating that persecution of the Jews was rife in the 1600's doesn't make me enjoy watching it or make me feel like I'm watching an important piece of history, so for those reasons I can't recommend.
March 31, 2011
SirPant

Super Reviewer

The world was raising. Thunderous canyons shot from below to meet my footsteps. Forests rose and died behind my back. Birds evolved and turned to dust before me. The sky was fire and shadow, and it covered the sun like a closing fist. My hair was a wild brown spirit dancing in the tempest. My consciousness tore apart into a thousand different pieces, each shot itself like a rocketship to a thousand stars. The moon crashed into the earth. Humanity begged to be. Civilization threw its hands up. Existence screamed.

My body is an auditorium. Memory is music fading, acoustics wearing.

Starlight is taxed. Clouds rule the universe. The bridges I walk end before they begin. All the islands and planets are sinking. An air just above me is a melancholy fragrance, and yellowness stains reality. The madness of my flesh is annihilated. I am just a tangle of wires choking a soul, stranded in a breath and under the dead mountains. The edge is deep. I let go, and fall back into a flock of glimmering crystal angels. I dream that they are building me beautiful white wings.
February 22, 2005
neumdaddy
Neum Daddy

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Der Kaufmann von Venedig (DE)
  • The Merchant of Venice (UK)
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