Measure For Measure is the new film by independent filmmaker/writer Paul Ireland (Pawno, 2015), and is one of several Premier Funded films at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). It was co-written by Damien Hill, who also starred and wrote Pawno and West Of Sunshine (2017) and sadly passed two days before filming was to commence late last year.
A shooting rampage by a gun welding “ice addict” sets up the unlikely meet up point between a dope smoking musician, Claudio (Harrison Gilbertson), and
Muslim woman Jaiwarra (Meagan Hajjar). What follows is a searing love story that reflects on cultural and religious divisions which set and shot predominately in the high-rise commission flats in the suburb of Prahran, as well as other locations across the city of Melbourne.
Measure For Measure, eponymously named after the Shakespearean play, tackles themes such as morality, mercy, and justice. The Claudio and Jaiwarra story is a tender blossoming relationship told in a montage of meet-ups across the city until her brother Fairouz (Faysaal Bazzi) finds out. Fairouz runs his own drug domain near the flats and holds a watchful eye on his sister and prevents her from seeing Claudio by placing him behind bars.
A fine ensemble of actors deliver powerful performances. This includes Hugo Weaving as Duke, an ageing and burnt-out drug lord, and Doris Youssane as Jaiwarra’s mother Karrima, who is a recently widowed immigrant facing the challenges of a new life in an unknown city with her two adult children. The film blurs the lines with genres, drawing heavily from crime (a genre where action and violence takes precedence over the more sensitive themes of love and loyalty, yet Ireland has successfully juggled an overlapping hybrid genre and directed a sensitive portrayal of not only two people in love but insightful character studies of the seedy underworld.
Duke is forced to flee the high-rise flats, leaving his top drug dealer Angelo (Mark Leoanard Winter) to hold fort. Duke is never far away, and with his right hand man Percy (John Brumpton) together they shack up in a chic apartment nearby watching the every move of his drug kingdom on CCTV. Meanwhile Jaiwarra is sent on a mission to save Claudio.
Measure For Measure is a well-crafted contemporary independent Aussie crime drama that delivers a challenging and though provoking morality tale. Thanks to the Melbourne International Film Festival’s Premier Fund for supporting local films such as this small gem.