*This entry is part of a mini-feature, High School Nostalgia: books-turned-movies that were discussed during my high school years.
Cast: Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes
Director: Michael Radford
Merchant of Venice was the first Shakespearean work that I had my hands on. It's light, and it served its comedic purpose, but had dramatic flair. To this day, Sherlock's monologue is the only speech that I can still recall. While the play is light to read and easy to take in, the same can't be said regarding the movie. Interpreted in the traditional sense, Merchant of Venice succeeds in transporting ancient Venice on screen, the flaw might have been the interpretation of the lines in itself.
Merchant of Venice follows Bassanio, this lovelorn lad who wants to win Portia's hand. However, he has no financial means to do so, thus asking Antonio for a loan. Antonio's money, on the other hand, was tied to his voyages, thus prompting Bassanio to ask Shylock for the loan. Shylock agreed, mainly because of the rift he had against Antonio, agreeing to the loan for the exchange of a pound of flesh when the loan is not repaid in three months. Seeing as this is a comedy, it does end up in a happy note.
If there could be someone that was memorable in this, it would be Al Pacino's Shylock. He was the one that looked comfortable in the role and the only one that showed any kind of emotion when necessary. The performances of the other stars were weak. This definitely added to the fact that the movie felt long, that I was watching a three hour movie with a slow start, culminating to a even uneventful climax. Jeremy Irons, who played Antonio, looked the part, but I expected him to have more life, rather than looking dull. Joseph Fiennes was unmemorable as Bassanio, who didn't struck me as a person in love, but a pompous man who squandered away all his money. I felt that in the play Portia was a smart woman, but the portrayal by Lynn Collins was forgettable. I felt that Portia wasn't deemed to be like the Portia Shakespeare imagined her to be. Even Nerissa made for a far more entertaining character than she was.