How to Do Shakespeare: ‘Looking for Richard’ Review

Posted in The Screening Room by - July 12, 2016

Looking for Richard follows Al Pacino as he attempts to put on a performance of Shakespeare’s Richard the Third. But it’s not so concerned with the success of the performance, but instead, it focuses on perspective about the play and Shakespeare’s work. Pacino interviews everyone from actors to scholars to figure out just what Richard the Third was all about, but also what Shakespeare was on to throughout his plays. It asks the tough question: how to make it work for modern audiences? The movie includes performances of scenes from the play featuring actors such as Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey. Also, be on the lookout for appearances from the likes of James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave.

We witness rehearsals, round-table discussions, we travel with Pacino and his friends across the streets of New York City, and we go all the way to England. Pacino’s documentary keeps things moving and alive. It’s never morose, in fact, it’s amusing. I found myself chuckling at a lot of the moments. Then moments later, I would be shocked by the scenes they’d perform from the play. Not only because Shakespeare’s play is so great, but also because the performances were just so good. 

Right off the bat, the documentary is very sincere. It’s no secret that even twenty years later, people still have a problem understanding or even reading Shakespeare. But we can see that even experienced, well-read actors and scholars struggle in their way, and it’s so revealing to see them figure it out together. This documentary is a great testament to the power of art and the collaborative nature of theater or even filmmaking. We watch as Pacino clashes with his fellow actors and crew, leading to some hysterical moments. But it’s also so much fun to see Pacino find some sagacious people on the streets. Most if not all of the people he interviews is full of wisdom of theater and life. This is a documentary I can see touching the heart and mind of at least one person. But the best part is that it’s very entertaining. Pacino is unafraid of making himself look ridiculous, and thankfully, everyone who appears on camera isn’t afraid to be shown confused or frustrated. But I guess it helps when Pacino also shows their bright sides. 

Looking for Richard is very easy to recommend to just about anyone. If you’re into Shakespeare, you’ll love it. If Shakespeare intimidates you, this is a must see. If you just want something breezy but also smart, this is the film for you. Al Pacino has crafted an amusing, thoughtful and heartfelt documentary with a lot of imagination behind it. His passion for the material shines through and through, as well as his sense of humor.  This is probably one of the best documentaries and films that I’ve seen in quite a long time.

Final Say: Watch It

This post was written by
Comments are closed.