Merchant of Venice 2004 was directed by Michael Radford.
The actors I found amazing, Portia played by Lynn Collins and especially Shylock, by Al Pacino, which I will talk about in more detail later. I find it intriguing how they took the turn with Bassanio and Antonio being potential lovers. In my opinion, it made the movie better that way because it opened up the character in a different perspective, which differs from the book. We clearly feel Antonio’s love for his friend at the very start of the movie when he puts Bassanio’s needs above his own, risking his life. We can see this when Antonio volunteers to lend him, Bassanio, money in order to sail to Belmont, Portia.
The characters definitely have chemistry going on between them, and I like how the actors were able to play around with their roles, for example, when Bassanio improvises the kiss after Antonio gives him credit to go to Belmont. Another powerful scene when both are at court and Antonio is sentenced to cut a pound of his flesh off, we can see how Bassanio truly cares for his friend and would even give up his newly married wife in order to save Antonio from the torture.
My favorite character of the movie was Shylock, the Jewish moneylender, because his charisma stood out to me the most. The casting of this actor fits naturally in the movie. Just his eyes could tell more than the words that he spoke. We first meet Shylock at the start of the movie, when he stands in the crowd, watching Jews being thrown off the bridge into the water; he, like the other Jewish people wears a red hat to mark his race, and eventually gets spat in the face by Antonio, who happens to pass by.
At the end of the movie, at court, Shylock, demanding justice, stripped away of his daughter and money, is forced to become a Christian, which was his breaking point. The scene where he drops on his knees and weeps, really made me shift uncomfortably in my chair. His whole life he hated Christians, he wouldn’t dare to dine with them, he detested their way of life, and the last thing he ever wanted was to become one. I was impressed while watching him stand silently, watching his people closing the doors of the synagogue, the place he used to pray.
The end of the film left a lot of questions and an unsettling feeling of melancholy and despair. His daughter, Jessica and the ring that was gifted to her by her dead mother, it doesn’t feel right, she doesn’t seem happy to have left her family. And the new couples, or specifically one, which in the movie seem more like a love triangle between Bassanio, Antonio and Portia. And since Portia is quite smart, I refuse to believe that she does not suspect her husband being unloyal to her, after the incident when Bassanio gives away the ring to the Doctor, who we know is actually Portia, that he swore to never lose.
Antonio’s state is the same as in the beginning “In sooth I know not why I am so sad” after everything he does not seem to be happy either.