GFF 2020: Measure for Measure

   By Santiago Guerrero

Measure for Measure is an Australian 2019 film directed by fellow Scotsman Paul Ireland showcased on the 6th of March at Glasgow Film Festival that tells a modernized version of the play by William Shakespeare. It’s a story set in a discouraging setting where it promises to have an intense, thriller-like experience where various characters with completely different backstories and motivations ultimately see their paths intertwine with one another; but ultimately fails to deliver a cohesive and satisfying story.

The film centers itself around its abundance of different characters that include the aged crime boss Duke, his future successor Angelo, aspiring musician Claudio, and a university student Jaiwara who comes from an immigrant family just to name a few. This was the first problem I encountered while at the screening as it gave the story a sense of not having its own characters fleshed out enough —  which ultimately made me unable to make me invested in any of them.

As far as pacing was, it felt like most of the first act had no odds except for one intense scene involving a shooting in a park. Straight after that, none of our characters are in danger anymore and have no clear goals despite of a love-story focus throughout this section. Once the conflict unravels however, the overall outcome becomes  a bit predictable, with a violent ending for one of the more antagonistic characters that may have worked in the play centuries ago, but came across as just plain bizarre in the movie.

The look of the film was at times quite pleasing to the eye, but for the most part the use of angles and colours is mostly dull to look at. With the same close-up on people’s faces that would work in a film that treats itself rather like an intense thriller from beginning to end rather than in a story like this. Scenes frequently took place in the same locations making the story feel like it was stuck on the same place during most of its runtime.

Numerous times scenes became quite confusing and repetitive, as the problem with fleshing out its characters persisted and made me ask myself “why did he or she do that, or why are they doing this?” Some of the storytelling choices made the movie feel like it dragged on for way longer than it did. Its length was one hour and forty five minutes, but to me personally it felt like it was two hours or more for sure.

When it comes to positives, I’d say that the performances mostly work towards the movie’s favour, especially of course Hugo Weaving who has proven to be a  fantastic actor on more than one occasion as well as Harrison Gilbertson and Megan Smart who portray Claudio and Jaiwara. The film also deserves praise for having an extremely impressive and engaging soundtrack that aligns itself extremely well with the tone of the story.

All in all I was not particularly surprised with how the movie panned out except for its complicacy, and its attempts to do too much in one movie with a short run time. The only trailer for Measure for Measure I could find was rather short and messy, and I found the viewing experience rather similar. If you want to watch a movie with constant close ups of people’s faces I’d rather recommend to log onto Netflix and watch “Good Time” and find out how Robert Pattinson landed the role of Batman rather than scratch your head with this one.


Measure for Measure screen as part of the Pioneer strand of the festival. Other films in this strand can be found here