Al Pacino gristles as Shylock the Jew, a part one might say he was born for, his viscous voice was threaded with gold to enunciate. Director Michael Radford's adaptation is standard as far as interpretations go: shot on location in Venice, in period costume (without Joel Schumacher's Dickensian heavy hand) and with safe casting. It is a little strange seeing Joseph Fiennes again in a Shakespearean role after playing Shakespeare himself in Shakespeare in Love. There are some pleasing details, such as the scene at the butcher's stall in the market as Bassanio begs Shylock for a bond as he buys his pound of meat (if perhaps a little too underlined); or the suggestion of a homoerotic tinge to Antonio's relationship with Bassanio when they kiss on the lips after agreeing to the loan so that Bassanio may go to Belmont to win Portia in marriage. Radford's screenplay teeters admirably between comedy and melodrama, particularly in the trial scene, whose horror and then pathos Shakespeare juxtaposes crudely against the comedy of yet another set of his women dressed as men.
Nugget: I could listen to Al Pacino speak all day. He could make even the traffic reports or the hour-long announcement of award-winners at a school prize-giving sound entralling.