Bella Thorne is the type of actress where the mere mention of her name gives rise to a devoted fanbase that will watch whatever project she’s attached to. Even when Thorne is a supporting actress rather than a lead, she helps boost any movie’s number of viewers as well as talent quota. Unfortunately, even the impressive Bella Thorne can’t save some movies, with Measure of Revenge being included on that list.
Measure of Revenge follows Lillian Cooper (Melissa Leo), a Broadway actress making her last on-stage appearance. When Lillian goes home, she shockingly finds her son Curtis (Jake Weary)—who had come home from a rehabilitation facility not long ago—dead in her home. After being notified that Curtis’ manner of death was an overdose, Lillian finds his drug dealer Taz (Thorne), and the two embark on their own quest to find out exactly what happened to her son.
Lead actress Melissa Leo plays Lillian. It’s hard to say who’s at fault, but Leo is battling with depicting a character that is over-the-top yet unremarkable, which leads to Lillian not being at all relatable or likable. The picture chose to focus on Lillian’s background as a Broadway star, and not as much on her relationship with her deceased son, which feels like an odd and shallow choice that goes against the entire plot. Constantly being plagued by visions of past characters she’s played as well as monologues from those plays that are much too long and pretentious, Lillian’s potential as a heartbroken mother is put on the back burner. It can be assumed that these monologues and visions tie back to her being a heartbroken mother, but it does not translate in the way that writer Kenny Walkandou may have envisioned.
Bella Thorne gives her usual caliber performance as shady drug dealer Taz. Thorne is, in fact, likely the most enjoyable talent in the ensemble to watch, instilling multiple layers and stakes into her character. However, Thorne’s minutes on screen are more limited than most would like to see, and instead Leo sleuthing around dominates the 92-minute runtime. As actresses, Leo and Thorne work well together and have notable chemistry, proving that the issues with the film lie with its writing and pretentious air.
Jake Weary isn’t seen too much in this one, being that he is found dead early on. However, in the moments that Weary is seen on screen, and in flashbacks, he adds a nice darkness to the film. The overall plot of the picture is very dark and brooding, and while the character of Lillian doesn’t always deliver that same feeling, Curtis does. That being said, the chemistry between Leo and Weary is lacking, making it hard to suspend disbelief that the two are a closely bonded mother and son.
Director Peyfa has much to learn. Measure of Revenge is their directorial debut, and needless to say, it is not a strong one. It feels at times like Melissa Leo had to struggle through deciding for herself what Lillian would do, or how she would act, versus being given positive direction by Peyfa. Lillian is all over the place and inconsistent, which is a huge blow to the film as she is the lead character, and it feels like something that a stronger director could have helped Leo easily avoid. Not much else is known about Peyfa, and time will tell if they attempt further directing feats or if they throw in the towel after this one.
The twist in the final minutes of the film is both expected and misguided. It’s no surprise what is unearthed by the ending, but it also doesn’t entirely make sense or mesh with the majority of the movie. Furthermore, the very last shot is almost guaranteed to make someone roll their eyes more than they would be invested.
With a promising plot but missteps in terms of trying to cram in artistic cutaways that make the film a confusing watch, it’s disappointing that art seemingly took over sense and human emotion with this one. Just when audiences start to immerse themselves in the mystery and sympathize with Lillian, another annoyingly artsy cutaway interrupts and takes everyone out of the moment.
To make your own decisions about Measure of Revenge, you can watch it on demand beginning March 18, 2022.