Picks and Pans Review: Looking for Richard
As director, narrator and actor, Pacino wears many crowns in this documentary about his love for Shakespeare's Richard III. The star, who played this misshapen but most seductive of villains on Broadway in 1979, visits the Bard's home in Stratford-upon-Avon (where the film crew accidentally sets off a security alarm). He conducts on-the-street interviews of New Yorkers, asking whether they're familiar with the play, let alone any of Shakespeare's plays. He interviews British theatrical giants such as Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud and Derek Jacobi, who assures him that American actors (e.g., Pacino) can handle Shakespeare. Then the movie settles down into an informal run-through of the play's highlights, with guess who in the title role.
Well, Pacino is a terrible Richard, which makes the entire movie an arrogant and extremely annoying waste of time. Does he understand Shakespeare? Pacino either honks the lines ("A hawse! A hawse! My kingdom for a hawse!") or lets them dribble out. This Richard, bleary-eyed and charmless, could not connive his way past a nightclub bouncer. Of the actors Pacino has enlisted for his vanity project, the best are Spacey, coolly amoral as Richard's coconspirator Buckingham, and Estelle Parsons, lustily seizing her chance to whoop it up as loony old Queen Margaret. (PG-13)