Originally posted for January 2015’s Genre Grandeur over at MovieRob.
Dead Man’s Shoes – British film review
Dead Man’s Shoes is a 2004 thriller directed by Shane Meadows, who also co-wrote the movie along with its main star and long-time friend, Paddy Considine. The movie is a revenge story, telling the story of Richard (Considine) a soldier who has returned to his home town having been stationed at war. He has come home with the intention of getting revenge on the gang of men who tortured his handicapped younger brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell) whilst he was away.
Set in a small town in the Midlands, the two creators – Meadows and Considine – initially had the idea for Dead Man’s Shoes whilst discussing revenge movies of a grander scale and the question crept into their minds – what would happen if this was me or you? What if the setting was smaller and the characters low key? What would happen if there was a semblance of realism basically.
And so became Dead Man’s Shoes. The perfect example of a revenge movie that for once has no bravado, no corny one liners and no Liam Neeson in a leather jacket. It’s still very violent – the movie is rated 18 for good reason. And as we watch Richard pick off the perpetrators one by one, which is actually quite satisfying (though gory), there is also an undeniable sadness to a story which serves to be both bleak and triumphant at the same time.
It’s a very atmospheric movie, as well as the distinctive and moody soundtrack many scenes were shot in black and white and entwined into the movie to demonstrate the flashbacks scenes of Anthony being bullied and tortured by the local bullies.
The group of bullies themselves are Losers (with a capital “L”), small time ‘gangsters’ (pot dealers etc) who drive around in a white and green 2CV thinking they’re something special. Anyone who’s lived in a small town will have known people like this. People who never move on, people who prefer to stay ‘big fish’ in a small pond. Well, unhappily for our group of losers – Richard is the perfect killing machine, trained by the army and broken hearted for what his little brother went through – this group of losers do not stand A CHANCE.
Dead Man’s Shoes is extremely low budget – around £700,000 in total to make, which as anyone who knows anything about movie budgets will know, is crazy cheap. The low budget just makes me love the movie even more though. It proves (in my opinion, which is usually correct, even if it is just my opinion) that money means nothing when creating a wonderful piece of cinema. What does really matter is the story, writing, direction and of course, acting. All of which are perfect in this movie. Considine and Kebbell play their parts perfectly and beautifully. In fact, everyone does.
This is a must watch for everyone, a thought provoking and clever movie that never gets boring and constantly challenges the viewer. After all, with Richard avenging his brother and leaving a trail of blood behind him – who is to say he is the good guy still? It’s an interesting movie, undeniably moral but with enough blood, violence and tension to keep the most ardent thriller fan very happy. Even though you’ve probably never heard of it, don’t let that put you off. No-one has heard of it, but that doesn’t stop it being one of the best cult thrillers of all time. And I hate to be a tease but…….the twist ending will stay with you forever.
“God will forgive them. He’ll forgive them and allow them into Heaven….I can’t live with that”