Review by Camden Ferrell
Measure for Measure is the newest film from writer/director Paul Ireland. This film is a modern re-telling of the Shakespearean work of the same name. Certain themes may ring somewhat hollow in this contemporary adaptation, but the movie still manages to benefit from strong performances and enjoyable execution.
In this film, a young Muslim woman and a local musician fall in love in Melbourne. This love affair is set against a dangerous housing estate that is dominated by gangs as a shocking event causes tensions to rise. The movie is a retelling of one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays”, so it will definitely polarize a lot of people for different reasons. However, Ireland’s narrative and artistic changes still allow the movie to mostly feel modern.
Ireland’s script, co-written by the late Damian Hill, is fairly decent throughout. There are some scenes of dialogue that feel clunky or tonally inconsistent though. Luckily, for the most part, the script finds a nice balance between a modern-day style dialogue and more theatrical expression.
The acting in this movie has some surprisingly good performances. One of the best parts of this movie is Hugo Weaving’s performance as Duke. He plays a quasi-omnipotent figure in the community, and even though he’s not super prominent in the film, he does a fantastic job in the scenes in which he’s featured. Mark Leonard Winter also gives a great performance as Angelo, the Duke’s second in command. He has lots of great and emotional moments, and he plays off the moral corruption of the character very well.
One of the movie’s drawbacks does come from its staggering melodrama. It’s not fully consistent in the film, so when the movie goes for a melodramatic tone, it disrupts the narrative and feels out of place. It seems like it doesn’t always know if it’s trying to be more theatrical and cinematic, and this is a mild problem that reoccurs a few times.
Despite its flaws, this film is actually really entertaining for its first two thirds. It has a really exhilarating and unpredictable opening sequence that sets in motion the plot. It may not be groundbreaking, but it’s some well-executed cinematic joy. It blends the gang-related aspects of the script and the romance aspects very well, and it creates a really great experience.
Unfortunately, in its final act, the movie loses some of its steam, and it has a hard time of reaching a natural thematic conclusion, so it feels fairly rushed. This is easily the weakest section of the movie, but it still does try and make up with for it with its continuously great performances.
Measure for Measure is a noble attempt at contemporary Shakespeare, and it is mostly entertaining. It may not be the most fulfilling experience, but it’s a decently enjoyable movie that might surprise you. It doesn’t break new cinematic ground, but if you’re looking for a story of love, death, and redemption, this might be for you.
Measure for Measure is available on VOD September 4.
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