PopMatters Film Interview: Bring It Alive: Interview with Michael Radford
Michael Radford sits at a table set near a window. The morning's grey light is cast on him as if he's posed, his close cropped gray hair and dark sweater composing a kind of portrait -- precise, quiet, assured. The director best known for Il Postino has recently tackled another project as attentive to tone as theme and character, William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. Set in 16th century Venice, the film follows the complicated relationships -- the fealties and tricks -- between the merchant Antonio (Jeremy Irons) and his beloved friend Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes). When Bassanio asks Antonio for money in order to court the lovely (and very wealthy) Portia (Lynn Collins), Antonio borrows it from the Jewish usurer Shylock (Al Pacino), bitter after years of abuse from the Gentiles, who abhor but make use of his money lending services. When Shylock's daughter Jessica (Zuleikha Robinson) runs off with a Christian boy, the father is distraught, and he takes out his vengeance on Antonio, in a debtor's court: he hopes to exact literally from his client the price they agreed on, the famous "pound of flesh."