Top critical review
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on March 15, 2015
This movie rendition of Shakespeare’s play was largely filmed on location in Venice and the Veneto. This provides fascinating depth and beauty.
However, the misconstrued screenplay greatly reduces the movie’s appeal. Strangely, Shylock is « humanized » and depicted in a ridiculously positive fashion, for instance attending the synagogue. There had been no Jews in England for centuries when the play was written and Shylock was obviously conceived as a stereotypical villain. The notion of political correctness simply did not exist in 16th century England!
This bias in the screenplay makes it incoherent. The text at the beginning of the movie describes the plight of Venetian Jews who are locked in the walled Ghetto after sunset. Yet, minutes later, an evening scene is presented with Shylock visiting Antonio … certainly outside the Ghetto. Also, the notion of cultural sensitivity does not extend to the African, French, German and Spanish suitors to Portia who are mercilessly portrayed as foolish buffoons.
The acting is marred first by the presence of both American and British accents. Worse, acting direction is poor with Lynn Collins (Portia) in a light farcical mode, Jeremy Irons (Antonio) in a dark and tragic mode and poorly coiffed and shaved Joseph Fiennes (Bassanio) in an absentee mode.
Overall, the movie may be recommended essentially for its illustration of northern Italy.