I'm kind of surprised The Merchant of Venice hasn't inspired any Hollywood spin-offs--you know, films that take the basic premise and characters of an old story and update them. Like Clueless did for Emma, or 10 Things I Hate About You for The Taming of the Shrew. It wouldn't be a high school story, of course. It would be, like Will's original, a tale of two cities. Not Venice and Belmont, but New York and Hollywood. Bear with me while I pitch this idea.
Okay, market junkies don't make films. But in fiction, anything's possible. It could happen this way:
George is tapped out at the moment, too--he's got all his assets riding on a big merger, but it hasn't come through yet. But George will do anything for Rob. He's just that kind of guy--and secretly, he hopes Rob will realize he's also gay, and they can have their own Hollywood Happily Ever After. But realistically, he knows that won't happen.
This kind of alt-Hollywood ending is never a big draw, so it's just not in the cards. Poor George.
The Portia character must be blond, so that the audience underestimates her intelligence. But she also has to be kind of princessy, and a bit spoiled. I'm thinking a young Gwyneth type, maybe a newcomer. The Lorenzo-Jessica subplot should stay--maybe Natalie Portman/Orlando Bloom. But younger, of course.
I bet the phrase "but younger" comes up a lot in real Hollywood pitch meetings.
The pound of flesh thing has to go. Maybe an organ donation instead? There's big money in those. I see George being wheeled into some illegal operating theater...but Rob and Younger Gwyneth burst in, there's gunfire, an explosion...
Gotta pump up the violence, of course.
We'll call this remake/analogue Leveraged. It's Zeitgeisty, it's business-speak, and it can be taken sexually if you use your imagination.
So, what do you think? Will anyone give me money for this crappy remake?
My point is that The Merchant of Venice speaks to our times in ways that, I think, Romeo and Juliet doesn't anymore. Mark my words, somebody will make this film.
Not me, of course. I can barely keep this blog going.
Next: Back to the (real) play.