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The Merchant of Venice Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Given the story's focus on religion and the intolerance that still rages in today's world, The Merchant of Venice remains deeply meaningful.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    It has greatness in moments, and is denied greatness overall only because it is such a peculiar construction; watching it is like channel-surfing between a teen romance and a dark abysm of loss and grief.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Pacino gives a keenly measured performance, leading an excellent British cast through their paces in a richly colorful production that should please selective audiences and adds to the list of major film adaptations of Shakespeare's work.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Pacino shows you what is only subliminally in the text: that Shylock's heart of stone is really a wall of wounded pride.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Sumptuous but not for everyone.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that most teens will have trouble at first following Shakespeare's untouched and dense prose. Given that the anti-Semitism of the time is given explicit treatment with Christian characters spitting on, cursing, threatening, and "damning" Jewish citizens forced to live in a ghetto, parents should be aware that sensitive viewers of any age may be upset and that this plus other mature themes render it unsuitable for younger viewers. A character's life is threatened, a young woman runs away with a man against her father's wishes, a man's anger becomes madness, a young woman refers to being orphaned, characters manipulate and lie to one another, and otherwise "good" people show grave intolerance to others based upon their religion or nationality. There is social drinking. Bare-breasted prostitutes beckon to passing men, and one scene has two characters doing business in a brothel.

  • Families can talk about the relationships between Antonio and Bassanio, Portia and her departed father, as well as the one between Shylock and Jessica. How are father-child type relationships at the heart of many of the dynamics of this play? The relationship between Antonio and Shylock becomes representative of other issues -- what are these, and why can they not be resolved more easily?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Anti-Semitism is a major theme in this movie with characters being mistreated and abused with no consequences to those who commit the crimes.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Peril, a character's life is endangered.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Topless women as a symbol of prostitution or debauchery, implied sexuality.

  • language false0

    Language: Some. Shakespeare's insults are impeccably phrased but they are derisive name-calling nonetheless.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Social drinking.