Measure of Revenge Image

Who is Peyfa? A quick Google search does not reveal much about the director of the maudlin, frenzied, terribly-titled revenge thriller Measure of Revenge. Perhaps he (or she, or they) prefer to stay enigmatic, a mysterious maestro orchestrating in the shadows. What’s more baffling is how this film ever got made, how such a formidable cast became attached to the project, and how no one involved ever said, “Wait a minute, are we all reading the same script?” Peyfa’s presumably first feature fails to deliver so much as a shred of novelty or even a molecule of inspiration.

Melissa Leo plays Lillian Cooper, a legendary theater actress whose drug-addicted musician son Curtis (Jake Weary) is found dead with his girlfriend. Cops “found traces of very powerful amphetamines in their systems,” leading Lillian to embark on an investigation of her own. She interrogates her son’s bandmates and meets Taz (Bella Thorne), Curtis’ drug dealer, whom she threatens with a kitchen knife before (sort of) befriending her. Lillian also (sort of) befriends Detective Eaton (Michael Potts), gets a gun, uses it to shoot someone, weirdly opts to direct Shakespeare plays, and gradually falls apart, hallucinating the whole time, her past theater performances colliding with reality.

Measure of Revenge stuffs a lot into a 90-minute narrative, and the strain shows. The plot lurches from one awkwardly-staged, heavy-handed, poorly-lit, bathed in eye-scorching soft-focus sequence to another with little regard for tonal shifts or narrative fluidity. The event that springs everything into action – Curtis’ death – is so abrupt and nonchalant, it feels like an afterthought. There’s little room for grief exploration or character depth, as Peyfa and screenwriter Kenny Walakandou are both eager to get through all the plot points, cerebral rumination be damned. The film’s three editors had their work cut out for them.

“…gets a gun, uses it to shoot someone, opts to direct Shakespeare plays, and gradually falls apart…”

Melissa Leo does what she can to pull the narrative out of the muck but has to contend with a slew of terrible hallucination interludes and a character whose motivations are questionable and not in a tantalizing, “what’s she going to do next” way. One standout sequence that provides a glimpse of what could have been sees Lillian escape mid-performance, go through emorional hell, and then get back on stage, visibly shaken.

Bella Thorne comes out relatively unscathed as the angsty, goth-like Taz. However, the biggest impression is left, as usual, by one of our greatest scene-stealers: Kevin Corrigan. He plays a shady character named Claude. He is underused here but imbues his scenes with enough offbeat charisma to make one wish the entire narrative revolved around Claude. Someone cast this guy in a Marvel flick already.

For a film that deals with a mother’s child passing, Measure of Revenge is depressing for all the wrong reasons. “I can’t go back into that world right now. It’s not for me,” Curtis says at one point. Maybe it’s best for Peyfa to remain in the shadows for a while. The cinematic world may not be for him.

Measure of Revenge (2022)

Directed: Peyfa

Written: Kenny Walakandou

Starring: Melissa Leo, Bella Thorne, Michael Potts, Kevin Corrigan, Jake Weary, Adrian Martinez, etc.

Movie score: 3/10

Measure of Revenge Image

"…Leo does what she can..."

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