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Parents' Guide to

Measure for Measure

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Violent, salty crime drama doesn't elevate Bard's play.

Movie NR 2020 107 minutes
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As a play, Measure for Measure is complicated, twisty, and bawdy, but in this adaptation, it's just convoluted. In other words: Shakespeare, this is not. Screenwriters often enjoy trying to contemporize the Bard's framework to create works of their own, and that can be fun in films like 10 Things I Hate About You or The Lion King. But here the framing falls apart -- and frankly, it's the only reason to watch it. Certain elements just don't translate well. For instance, in the play, the Duke of Vienna keeps an eye on the city that he's left in the charge of his expected successor. Here, loan shark "Duke" watches all the goings on in his territory through security monitors he set up in a hotel room while he pretends he's on vacation. It's a little hard to believe.

Talk of salvation and God and religious imagery are present everywhere, but that doesn't connect to the interfaith romance at the film's center -- or, for that matter, anything. The big plot twist is muddled, if not impossible. And while Shakespeare makes his message of "measure for measure" clear -- that those who have the power to judge us in criminal matters aren't necessarily morally superior -- that's a harder case to make in a world where the leaders are breaking the law every day.

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