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"WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S THE MERCHANT OF VENICE"
(2004) (Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Mild Extreme Mild Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Minor None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Minor Moderate Moderate Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A Christian merchant must deal with the consequences of defaulting on a loan from a Jewish moneylender who's hell-bent on getting even for the merchant's previous racist behavior toward him.
PLOT:
It's Venice, 1596, and despite being the most liberal European city, there's still intolerance toward Jews there. Not only must they wear caps that identify their ethnicity, but they're also locked into a ghetto at night. And since they're not allowed to own any property, most -- such as Shylock (AL PACINO) -- have resorted to becoming moneylenders despite that also being against the law.

His latest client is Christian shipping merchant Antonio (JEREMY IRONS) who borrows money from Shylock so that his handsome young friend and part-time/casual lover, Bassanio (JOSEPH FIENNES), can travel to the far off land of Belmont in hopes of impressing the beautiful and quite wealthy Portia (LYNN COLLINS). Many suitors have tried to solve her late father's puzzle that would grant them permission to marry her, but all have failed so far.

Shylock agrees to loan the money, but with the stipulation that should Antonio -- who earlier spat on him with racist intent -- default for any reason, Shylock will get what's due back to him in the form of one pound of Antonio's flesh. The merchant sees no reason to worry as he has several ships headed back to port, and so he gives the money to Bassanio who travels to Belmont with his friend Gratiano (KRIS MARSHALL). There, they meet the fair Portia and her lady-in-waiting, Nerissa (HEATHER GOLDENHERSH), who's soon smitten with Gratiano.

Back home, things are looking bad for Antonio as news arrives that his ships are lost and thus so are his chances of repaying Shylock. Enraged by his client's earlier behavior and the fact that his own Jewish daughter, Jessica (ZULEIKHA ROBINSON), has run off with Bassanio's Christian friend, Lorenzo (CHARLIE COX), Shylock is ready to enact his revenge and collect his pound of flesh.

When Bassanio learns of his friend's pending fate, he races back -- with Portia's money -- to repay Shylock and spare Antonio injury and possible death. Yet, with Shylock intent on vindication, the stage is set for a judicial showdown where various relationships and Antonio's life are on the line.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're into Shakespeare or are fans of someone in the cast, it's highly unlikely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For some nudity.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • AL PACINO plays a Jewish moneylender who seeks to get revenge on Antonio for earlier belittling him and then defaulting on a loan. Rather than accept the repayment and offers for even more, he's intent on getting his revenge on any Christian (meaning a pound of flesh from Antonio), especially after his daughter elopes with one.
  • JEREMY IRONS plays a middle-aged shipping merchant who acts in a demeaning fashion toward Shylock before realizing he needs to borrow money from him so that his part-time/casual lover, Bassanio, can try to win Portia's hand.
  • JOSEPH FIENNES plays his charming and part-time/casual lover who uses Antonio's credit to get Shylock's money that will enable him to travel to Belmont to woo Portia. When he learns of his friend's plight, he races back home to try to save him. He also drinks in several scenes.
  • LYNN COLLINS plays a wealthy and sought-after young lady whose beauty and riches draw many suitors who must solve her late father's puzzle in order to marry her. She's wise and resourceful and puts up with most of the men who come calling for her, including Bassanio.
  • ZULEIKHA ROBINSON plays Shylock's daughter who disobeys his wishes and runs off with Lorenzo, a Christian man.
  • KRIS MARSHALL plays Bassanio's friend who accompanies him to Belmont and finds himself smitten with Nerissa.
  • CHARLIE COX plays Bassanio's friend who sweeps Jessica off her feet and makes her disobey her father's wishes.
  • HEATHER GOLDENHERSH plays Portia's lady-in-waiting and best friend who falls for Lorenzo and then accompanies Portia to Venice to help save Antonio and see how the new men in their lives really act.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Various bare-breasted women (presumably prostitutes) are seen in various scenes, including one where they're cavorting with some men and close bodily contact is observed (not actual sex, but some caressing and groping is present). Some non-explicit, sexually related dialogue is heard, while it's implied that two men are part-time/casual lovers (they briefly kiss and sex is somewhat implied).

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes (particularly related to racism), and some kids may get the idea to imitate that (which includes spitting on others). Profanity consists of one minor expletive and a few religious-related phrases.

    Some characters drink in various scenes, one smokes in one, and a scene where a man seems prepared to cut a pound of flesh from another man's body (as part of a preexisting contract they agreed to) may be a bit unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers. Some brief struggling is present, while a goat's throat is slit by a butcher and there's some brief related bloodletting and butchering. Finally, a man is upset with his daughter for eloping with a person not of their ethnicity.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Bassanio and others drink.
  • Miscellaneous people drink and there's talk of them being sober in the morning and drunk in the afternoon.
  • Many men with Bassanio drink, while Shylock is there with wine in front of him.
  • Lorenzo and Gratiano drink.
  • Miscellaneous people drink.
  • Various characters drink wine.
  • Bassanio and Portia have wine.
  • Portia holds a glass of wine, while Gratiano pours some.
  • Bassanio has some wine.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We briefly see a goat's throat slit in a meat market with some blood running out into some water. We then see some cutting into the meat with bloody results.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • We hear that there's intolerance toward Jews in Venice, especially regarding locking them into a ghetto at night (guarded by Christians) and forcing them to wear hats to identify them as such.
  • Antonio spits into Shylock's face (for being Jewish).
  • Jessica states that she'll change from a Jew to a Christian to be with Lorenzo (some may see that as having a bad attitude, especially for the time and since it's against her father's wishes).
  • A miscellaneous person spits on a Jewish person.
  • Bassanio lies about his self and wealth to Portia (but later admits to that).
  • A person spits on Shylock in court.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Masked men arrive by boat and enter the gated ghetto at night, but it turns out they're there to see Jessica for benign reasons.
  • We briefly see a goat's throat slit in a meat market with some blood running out into some water. We then see some cutting into the meat with bloody results.
  • For dramatic effect, Shylock sharpens his butcher knife in court (to cut the one pound of flesh from Antonio).
  • Some viewers may worry about Antonio (who's strapped to a chair, is gagged with a strap and appears nervous) when it appears he's lost his case in court that will allow Shylock to cut a pound of flesh from his body. Shylock then holds his knife to Antonio's chest, but a court ruling stops him.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • A prince and his entourage carry ceremonial swords.
  • A prince and his followers pull out their knives in unison (for non-violent reasons).
  • For dramatic effect, Shylock sharpens his butcher knife in court (to cut the one pound of flesh from Antonio).
  • We see a person fishing using a bow and arrow (firing the arrows down into the water).
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Oh hell" and "Idiot."
  • Antonio spits into Shylock's face and later a miscellaneous person spits on a Jewish person. A person later spits on Shylock in court.
  • A man spits into a small container held by a woman.
  • We see a person fishing using a bow and arrow (firing the arrows down into the water).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A brief bit of suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 hell and 1 use each of "For God's sakes" and "Oh God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see some women (presumably prostitutes) whose breasts are exposed out on the public streets. We then see that again, including such sights in a boat.
  • Bassanio kisses Antonio on the lips and homosexual sex is somewhat implied (their business agreement was made in the bedroom).
  • Portia shows some cleavage in several scenes.
  • We see a miscellaneous woman's bare breasts over her low-cut dress. We then see many more bare-breasted women on the street (presumably prostitutes).
  • A man gropes a prostitute's bare breast. Other women show cleavage and there's some male to female caressing and snuggling, etc. (including a man with his head to a woman's chest) and more bare-breasted women.
  • A painting shows a bare-breasted woman.
  • Bassanio and Portia do some brief, but passionate and clothed kissing.
  • There's some possible joking innuendo by Gratiano about never winning at sports with the "stake down" (while pointing down).
  • Knowing Bassanio gave up his wedding ring to save Antonio's life (to her when she was in disguise as Antonio's legal rescuer), Portia tells Bassanio that she won't come into his bed until she sees that ring. A comment is then made about "the doctor lay with me" (meaning sex) and Nerissa then says the same about a young man "laying" with her (which is a white lie to put Gratiano in his place).
  • Some dialogue indicates that Gratiano and Nerissa are headed off to bed (they're married).
  • SMOKING
  • Bassanio briefly smokes a pipe.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Shylock is very upset with his daughter for eloping with a Christian.
  • We hear that Portia's father is dead, but we don't know for how long.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • We hear that there's intolerance toward Jews in Venice, especially regarding locking them into a ghetto at night (guarded by Christians) and forcing them to wear hats to identify them as such.
  • Racism then and now.
  • Jessica states that she'll change from a Jew to a Christian to be with Lorenzo.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see some miscellaneous characters struggling.
  • A man is pushed off a bridge and into some water below it.
  • We briefly see a goat's throat slit in a meat market with some blood running out into some water. We then see some cutting into the meat with bloody results.
  • Nerissa hits Gratiano several times over a ring.



  • Reviewed January 24, 2005 / Posted March 4, 2005

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