Dead Man's Shoes (2004)

Crime, Drama, Thriller
Paddy Considine, Gary Stretch, Toby Kebbell, Stuart Wolfenden
A disaffected soldier (Considine) returns to his hometown to get even with the thugs who brutalized his mentally-challenged brother (Kebbell) years ago.
Though enhanced by cramped, gritty camerawork, this unsettling look at violence and revenge lacks the provocative edge needed to give it a substantial kick.
  • Magnolia Company:
  • 18 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 01 Oct 2004 Released:
  • 05 Sep 2006 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:

All subtitles:



Trailer:

A traditional and excellent morality tale5/10
Having read other reviews, I was moved to write this as several reviews completely "miss the point" of this excellent film: they concentrate on the violence as disturbing and the characters contrived and distasteful.

- As if this all constitutes a "bad" film.

The film is a superb and straightforward morality tale: brutal, stark and nobody wins. The film is simple in narrative, but the message is timeless, and achingly sadly evoked in the final scene.

"Welcome to the real world, some reviewers": there IS violence in the world, exactly like this; it's a fact. The entire film is not comedic violence a la Tarantino; it is about (extreme) vengeance and the universal harm it does.

That one can sympathies to small degree with the protagonist is again real life - most violence is caused by "something", ie is not usually a random act. It is entirely morally wrong, but there just is usually a lead-in, or some excuse/rationalization. And the characters are not contrived - they are alarmingly accurate (having known a couple of UK special forces individuals, they have been trained to do a job; they are the best in the world at it; and if you want a very very hard time, they are the people to get on the wrong side of.)

It is clear at the end that the avenger has known all along that the carnage he has caused means he will have nowhere to go; he wants to die.

The film is superb, and critics of it are merely criticizing a part of the real world they would rather not know about (or a part of themselves/everyone).
Mind-blowing example of a damn good movie9/10
Well, you can probably tell from the summary that I thought this was a really good film. To be frank, from the first few minutes I felt that knot in my stomach that comes from deep apprehension and anxiety; I was being manipulated from the off, and it just got more and more intense.

The film is a straight revenge story - a man goes back to a small town in the north of England to take revenge on a group of people who abused and tortured his mentally-retarded brother. Richard has been in the army for several years and is trained as a mercenary, but he plays mind games as much as he resorts to violence. In fact, I had to ask my friend if this qualified as a slasher film (which is how you will probably see it advertised) and we didn't think that the term does it justice.

The script is superb, and reminded me of Almadovar in that it squeezes an incredible amount of detail about the characters without any clumsy exposition. For example, to gauge the relationship between Richard (an astonishing portrayal by Paddy Considine) and his handicapped brother Anthony (played by Toby Kebbel with skill and sensitivity, and not a little sensuality) pay close attention to the conversation where they talk about a childhood football match. So much said about their characters, their relationship and the situation, in so few words.

A film as violent, aggressive and discomforting as this has no right to be as funny is it is, but it gets away with it. The gang upon whom Richard takes revenge are at times touching, farcical, disgusting, pitiable but ultimately human. The worst of humanity laid bare, making you want to retch and laugh at the same time.

I am not going to spoil this film by going into the little twists and turns, the less you know about the plot the better. Although many of my reasons for being so impressed with this movie are personal, I think that the script, acting, cinematography, direction, editing and soundtrack are all brilliant. This film is on a limited cinema release, but search it out; it will take you on a hell of a journey.

"God will forgive them and let them into heaven, I can't let that happen"
How British Low Budget Should Be Done10/10
If you do not like dark, challenging films, don't bother.

If you are ready for something unlike anything you've ever seen, and are not afraid to confront difficult emotions, give this film a go, you won't be disappointed.

From the start the tone is set. A bleak town in Northern England, like many bleak towns in northern England. With petty, small time drug dealers, like petty small time drug dealers everywhere, vicious and stupid. Then into their lives comes a mysterious figure, in a green parka. And nothing will ever be the same.

It's difficult to describe the movie without spoilers, and I do not want to spoil a single second of what is possibly the most powerful and emotionally wrenching film I have seen for a decade and more (made all the more powerful by the haunting music). Paddy Considine (who wrote and stars in the film) is stunning as, for want of a better phrase, an avenging angel, albeit a fallen one. The menace and tension builds and builds (including perhaps the best depiction of a bad LSD trip ever set down on film - it's an extremely discomforting experience if you've ever been on the wrong end of a bad trip, believe me) until the harrowing climax. This is not a nice film. This is not a fun film. This is, however, an exceptional film, and perhaps more importantly it is an honest film, a true film if such a thing can be said of fiction.

If you want smiles, or empty action, or to put your brain on hold, this is not the film for you.

If, however, you want a film with genuine emotional depth, that makes you think and resonates far after the end credits have finished, then this may be what you're looking for.

Just don't expect an easy ride.

An overused word, but the closest I've seen to a masterpiece for many a long year.
A dirge, but my god, a riveting one.9/10
On paper I can see the argument that there is little morally redemptive quality to a film like Dead Man's Shoes, no diamond polished by the end credits to reward an audience going through the trauma. But to actually sit through the film, and most importantly, to be subjected to another of Paddy Consadines' electric performances, is an extra-ordinarily vital, if viceral experience.

In 'A Room for Romeo Brass' Considines character shifted from comical to threatening in a truly unsettling way, although in the end his promise 'to go dark on you' is easily thwarted by the decisive action and confidence of a father-figure. In this film, again, there is some uncertainty on the audience's part as to how far the character will go, as until the end, we are uncertain of exactly what he is revenging.

Rest-assured, Considine delivers an absolutely convincing depiction of a man struggling to balance his desire for revenge and redemption, he invokes sympathy and fear from the audience in a performance to rival DeNiro in 'Taxi Driver'.

I judge a film on the value of the experience it gives you, and 'Dead Man's Shoes is more than worthy of your time.
WHAT a film!5/10
I was already a huge fan of Meadows' work (A Room for Romeo Brass, 24/7) before going to watch this film and had extremely high hopes for it. Another reviewer hit the nail on the head when he said he was manipulated from the off with deep anxiety and anticipation. It recently came out to rent on DVD and I must have watched it about six or seven times now and loved every viewing and there are very few films that I can say that about. It is superb, if you have not seen it, don't read on, just go and watch it. It is obviously not technically the best film of all time, but I don't care what anyone says, it has become my second favourite film ever made, its that good. My reasons for loving it are probably very personal, so excuse my if you think I'm overrating it. I showed it to my mates though and they all loved it.

SPOILERS AHOY Its a dark, yes very dark film, but Meadows has a knack of using humour to ensure his work is never miserable or too depressing. The scene where Sonny accidentally shoots his mate in the head with a sniper rifle is gloriously farcical. I even had to chuckle during the scene where Richard shows Herbie the mangled body of Tuff because of Paddys fantastic acting- 'D'ya wanna give 'im kiss?', 'D'ya want me t' shut it? yeah', unbelievable. The drug scenes are some of the most realistic I've ever scene; whoever suggests they aren't needs to go out and drop some trips and say that again.

Just like all his films (except Once Upon A Time In The Midlands), the soundtrack is spot on. Perfect songs used with impeccable timing create a distinct, moody atmosphere. All the acting is fantastic (even the little kids at the end) the improvisation works a treat and you genuinely feel as if you know these characters, or have met them somewhere before.

I feel sorry for anyone who didn't like this film, you really are missing out. There's a few small continuity mistakes, but I only noticed them after watching it a few times and you've got to be a miserable git to let that spoil the experience. Shane and Paddy (if you're reading this), you are the best thing to happen to the British film industry since Loach, forget cockney gangsters. I can't wait for 'Le Donk'. 'thtweet boys and girth'. 11 out of 10 from me.