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Dead Mans Shoes is the movie serious film fans wait and hope for. The 2004 cult classic was a genuine dark comic treat and different, edgy and parochial enough that you almost want to keep it all to yourself. It placed 12th in Total Film magazines top 100 British films, not bad for a budget of 750,000 It did barely 100,000 in the cinemas because there was no money to promote it in American funded multiplexes here playing likewise movies and very much a word-of-mouth DVD success. Its foreboding dust cover of Considine''s psycho character wielding an axe suggests it''s a slasher but ends up a rather comic psycho thriller. Its power is it uses real life situations and places everyday people can associate and relate with, here a small rural town in the East Midlands where the kids that bullied you at school never had the ambition to grow up and still their around town reminding you of your own school nightmares. Ex soldier, the bearded and wide-eyed Richard (Considine), has returned to his rural home town on a mission. Someone has been bullying his retarded brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell) while has been away and here to put things right. Number one suspect is Sonny (Stretch) and his gang of low life drug dealers, their narcotics catchment area on the outskirts of Matlock hardly South Central L.A, cruising the streets in a green rusty Citroen CV with an air rifle for protection from rival Midlands cartels. Sonny always knew that Richard would return one day and when his ?crew'' are tormented by a man in gas mark he realizes this is that Day of Judgment. Richard has been damaged by war and it''s clear he is not leaving until they have been dealt with and what they did to Anthony must have been bad. The American film press didn''t get the comic British nuance of the rural East Midlands and that detracted from the final mark. The Derby accent is rarely heard in film so roar. But it''s that attention to quirky detail prodigal son and Staffordshire lad Meadows brings to the film that makes this work so well, in that it''s a non glamorous part of the world he knows well and when seen and heard on film is exactly that. We can relate to that world as it''s our world. If it had been set in London or Liverpool it would have ended up yet another British accent themed hackneyed gangster movie. It''s packed full of quotable cool dialogue and iconic scenes, none more so when the boys try to take on the axe waving Richard at a farm house. Because the gangs are such dunderheads there are so many comic opportunities to be had and so Considine can go to town with his increasingly malicious character, violent as he is funny, the signature Shane Meadows folksy and haunting soundtrack tying the bow.
What a film this is.
It's no epic, that's for sure. Not one for pulling in the masses; quite the cult classic in fact. A perfect killer-thriller set in the cold, bleak North of England. It's not all like that up there, by the way! But many areas are grey, hopeless and desolate; and this film takes every advantage of that, using the dreariness as a backdrop to an ominous story line full of inevitability - but not predictability.
Firstly, the supporting cast of small time crooks and thugs is exactly what you'd expect from Shane Meadows. He seems to have a knack of finding real-life, gritty actors - or perhaps it's the genius of his writing and direction. His films are often non-theatrical (and for that, they are even more scary) and this one is perhaps the best of the lot. Former boxer Gary Stretch leads the pack. Rough and ready though his character is, he seems slightly worried that he may have met his match...
... Toby Kebbell is excellent at portraying the film's younger of the two brothers; I can't recall offhand what exactly his affliction is, but he is unfortunately impaired and vulnerable - Kebbell is not in real life of course, though you might think so given his flawless performance.
The star of the show is, of course, Paddy Considine. Whether he's donning an old World War II gas mask or just smirking angrily through a full beard, he is as intimidating and indomitable as any anti-hero, ever. Given what I said about Meadows's non-theatrics, Considine in this role is absolutely terrifying and his exploits are hard hitting and monumental in such a small town.
It's frustrating for me that I can't talk more about individual scenes, but I don't want to give too much away to any readers... But in my opinion, it's the best British film since Lock, Stock n' Two Smoking Barrels - although they are not in any way similar. Dead Man's Shoes is not tame and light-hearted in its darkness like the aforementioned, oh no; it's much more emotional than that.
At the risk of sounding sexist I'd say it's more of a man's film, though I enjoyed it very much as you should be able to tell, and so did the two couples we lent the film to. And I hate lending out films, it's just that good.
Directed and co-written by Shane Meadows
This movie is a British made Pscychological thriller which was released in 2004 ,it is also one which I have watched a few times since first watching years ago,it is a brilliant film based around the story of one man coming back from the military in order to seek revenge for the miss treatment of his younger brother.
Set in the working class environment of Matlock,Darbyshire in the peak district,England, Anthony(Tony Kebbel) a young lad who has some learning difficulties is stopped by a group of lads whilst going to the shop for his mother,this group of boisterous,drunk and drugged up lads get Anthony to come in to the house and spend the day bullying and abusing the poor kid,the scenes are quite distressing to watch as they torment the poor lad.
Richard(Paddy Considine),Anthony's big brother is horrified and upset on finding out about the mistreatment of his younger brother and returns from the military to get revenge,which he does
so and at times you think maybe he goes a bit too far but the twist at the end explains why Richard is so upset.
This film is a heavy and very bloody movie but also one which has a lot of sadness in it, and it shows the consequences and ripple effect which bullying can have on people's lives,as many lives are destroyed and wasted because of the stupid behaviour of a group of lads off there heads on booze and drink.
I think this movie is a sad reflection on the direction of some of Britains working class area's as the drug culture is so big now there are very few working class area's not being effected by it.
I would say this is a very good film as it has a interesting story line and the action keeps you gripped to your seat all the way through,the actors do a brilliant down to earth job and are wonderful at setting a real working class environment.
Paddy Considine does a amazing job in this film giving a exceptional performance and it was watching him in this film when I recognized how much of a good actor he really is and started looking out for more of his films.
Overall I would say this is a film well worth watching, certainly not one for the kids and you can pick it up for as cheap as four pounds on amazon,I would certainly not mind recommending this film,as it is powerful with a brilliant twist at the end.
You can also find this review on ciao under laurenthornton123
Wow. I watched this recentlyvery & what a fantastic film! I would expect nothing less from the wonderful Shane Meadows but even so it was briliant and is instantly one of my favourite films!
It is harrowing, brutal, gripping, violent, powerful.....I could go on, but suffice to say it is one of those films that just stays with you long after watching it. It won't be to everyone's taste due to some fairly distressing scenes and a large amount of violence and even gore, but it is not violent just for the sake of it.
Paddy Considine plays the main character absolutely brilliantly, it really is a superb performance on his part. He plays Richard, a guy who has recently come out of the army and is hell bent on seeking revenge on a group of men who bullied and abused his learning disabled brother, Anthony, back in his home town whilst he was away in the army. As well as he plays his part, he is matched by the actor playing Anthony, he really gives a sensitive performance which is heart breaking to watch.
Throughout the film we are shown flashbacks as to what Anthony went through at the hands of the bunch of thugs & drug dealers whilst Richard wasn't there to protect him. Considine brilliantly portrays a man who not only feels anger towards these men and sorrow for his brother but also guilt at not being there for him. It is easy to understand the emotions he feels as he seeks vengeance on Anthony's tormentors, at no point does it feel like his actions are unjustified or like it is a pointlessly violent film. Meadows even manages to inject a certain amount of humour into this otherwise brutal and sorrowful tale.
The storyline, the acting and the cinematography of this film are superb.
I've recently moved in with my boyfriend and we decided a few days ago to settle down on the sofa with a nice meal and watch a film together. He decided to put this film on as I had never seen it, but he knew I'd like it as I love horrors and thrillers. The film plot is the type that weaves a web and tells a story in a subtle way, allowing it to build up into a bigger picture. The film is set in a small northern town and focusses on a group of violent drug dealers who are the target of a soldier who wants revenge. There is sex, booze, drugs and of course, murder.
Dead Man's Shoes
This is a psychological thriller which was co-written and directed by Shane Meadows, a BAFTA winning director known most recently for his outstanding British film This is England, a gritty tale of violent, racist young skinheads in the early 80's. Dead Man's Shoes was released over two years before This Is England and it shows a much more violent and in-depth view of Shane's work, focussing on torture, violence, revenge and guilt. I like the fact that one of the main actors in the film, Paddy Considine worked with Shane to write the film and his performance is incredible, you can really tell that they wrote it with personal insight and experience in my opinion. The film is 86 minutes long and it has an eighteen certificate.
Richard, a deeply traumatised and guilt-ridden soldier returns to his home town determined to seek revenge after learning of the mental, physical and sexual abuse that his mentally challenged younger brother, Anthony endured at the hands of a gang of older men who were involved in some pretty shady things.
I found this film to be a little slow at first due to the amount of dialogue between the gang of men who were responsible for the brutalities against Anthony. I can however see the reasoning behind this; we see that they have little remorse and are generally unlikeable characters, which creates a kind of respect towards Richard and gets us on his side, therefor creating tension in scenes in which the character is in possible danger. We don't really learn much about the main character in the beginning, or the entire film for that matter, but we do quickly learn that he is determined and highly trained. Toby Kebell's character, Anthony is the main focus during the beginning of the film and we are shown flashbacks of some of the abuse that was inflicted on him which although not gory, I found it disturbing as the character is a very vulnerable, naive and easily confused young man.
I found that after the initial 20 minutes or so that the film became more light-hearted, with comical references such as the big, burly gangsters driving around in a rubbish little car and the clown scenes in which Richard painted their faces while they slept were equally as funny yet deeply disturbing at the same time, mainly because he had the chance to kill them point blank but instead decided to play around with them and humiliate them like they did his brother. This shows incredible tactic and restraint and it reflects his solider background. The light humour comes to an abrupt end though when the men realise who is responsible for a number of petty crimes against them - that's when the real tension, paranoia and fear kicks in amongst the group. The gang begin to plot to kill Richard.. but will he get them first?
The end of this film is the best part. Everything begins to make sense and a huge bombshell is dropped, creating a whirlwind of 'it all makes sense now!' thoughts, rushing through the viewers head. The ending is incredibly sad and heartfelt, Paddy Considine's performance is outstanding. Obviously I am not going to say how the film ends, but it's genius! I felt completely satisfied with how the film ended as it was not left on a cliff hanger and everything, in my opinion was explained.
Picture Quality and Special Effects
The film is shot in a simple way, there are no fancy camera moves at all. The picture throughout has a grey blue tone to it which reflects the tone and low mood of the characters in my opinion and it creates a really dark and gritty feeling atmosphere if that makes sense! The flashback scenes are grey with static effect, reflecting that the events took place a number of years ago. There was no CGI as far as I could see, which considering the amount of bloodshed is a minor miracle, but I think that special effect make-up was used in the gorier scenes and it looks very realistic. The murder scenes in this film aren't too gory and are not particularly imaginative - there's the usual gun and knife scenes and there's one particular scene where a man's neck is broken by a swift punch to the throat.
I personally found the acting in this film to be a little hit and miss, although a couple of the actors did stand out a mile with their exceptionally good performances. Paddy Considine is quite possibly one of the best actors that I've come across and his performance was Oscar worthy. His ability to portray such a disturbed character is impressive and I found the way that he was mister nice one minute and mister slit-your-neck-open the next as equally impressive and a little disturbing. The way that he is placid and easy going one minute and the next he is like a wild animal reflects his state of mind brilliantly and the fact that he was so unpredictable and unhinged created a lot of tension.
Toby Kebbell's performance is also outstanding. Having seen him play a convicted murderer, I was surprised at how well he portrayed such a vulnerable and child-like character. His character was easily likeable and it was clear that Anthony thought the world of his brother, making the ending all the more heart breaking. The gang of men in the film were all average actors witth the ability to play nasty pieces of work reasonably well. The actress who played one of the men's wives was quite a bad actor in my opinion and she delivered her lines in a very 'wooden' manor, but due to how exceptional Kebell and Consindine's performances were, this isn't a huge issue.
My Overall Opinion
I highly recommend this film. It kept me and my boyfriend hooked. The acting was outstanding, the story was believable and the huge twist at the end was mind-blowingly good!
DEAD MANS SHOES - 2004/C18/86min/DVD/£2.99NEW/£0.90USED
Dead Mans Shoes is a 2004 revenge film, set in Matlock - Derbyshire - directed by a then, just about to firmly print his name in British Film making, Shane Meadows. As well as Meadows, this film gave the two leads Paddy Considine and Toby Kebbell the leg up that was on its was in a couple of years time anyway. The film didn't do great - losing money at the box office. It was big in Nottingham (where I was lucky enough to see it), but didn't find its rightful home as a modern cult classic of British film making until it saw DVD release.
At the time the cast was mostly unknown - Considine being the big name working as the lead in 'In America', to my mind a poor showcase for hit talent and 'Twentyfourhourpartypeople' with Steve Coogan, he's allowed to show a comic and slightly darker side - one that he blasts to full affect in Dead Mans Shoes. The rest of the cast, along side the director are all stalwarts of Midlands film making, many showing up in Meadows work before and since this film. Meadows is well respected in his home town of Nottingham, often the spiritual not physical home of his films. The Broadway cinema, until fame caught up with him would often premier his films, have Q+A sessions with him and there is a general feel he's left his mark on the cinema (incidentally, regarded as one of the best independent cinemas in the world, try and get in the Paul Smith screen if you can if not just for the unique cinema design)
Alongside side Considine, there a strong supporting cast - with two standouts - Toby Kebbell as Anthony and Gary Stretch as Sonny. Both stand out as giving remarkable performances, and whilst Stretch has not really gone onto affirm his skills since this film, Kebbell certainly has, with Holywood calling not too longer after this film took off - around 2006-2007 - finding his way into the Guy Richie mob flick 'Rock 'N' Rolla'
Describing this film is tricky - its really easy to wax-lyrical about the plot and script (give me a second and I will) but this film has a real kicker that ties an already great film together - and not giving that away is tough. So I wont, but fear I've already said too much.
So, the film is pretty simple. Considine as Richard goes back to his hometown, a small pretty cut off town. Everything about this place is 'small town'. Its informal, everyone knows each other. Secrets and rumors stay within the district lines and its bleak. Nothing to do, nowhere to go and the same faces everyday. A perfect place for the gang running the town to exist. Richard goes back his younger brother Anthony (Kebbell) to wreak violent revenge on the gang for reasons that are slowly made clear as the film goes on. As member of the gang is killed, a little more of the reasons why are reveled. This is done with flashbacks presented in black and white and are made to feel as if they are memories that are intentionally fleeting. The members of the gang would clearly rather not look back on this time.
Richard has been in the Army, leaving presumably a man returning something of an affable monster. He is cold, stoic and focused, yet not totally unlikable - especially not to the camera. On camera, even in the darkest moments Considine makes sure Richard is breathing a bitterly cold life into his presence. His lines are sharp and focused, hes cool and calm and utterly convincing. To the gang he is terrorising, hes the devil. He shows up in the dark, at night and most shocking in plane sight to kill them one by one - making his way to sonny the gang leader who he has fun with before execting him. nothing overaly sadistic, but really affirming he is in charge. There are six of them and one of him and at no point in the film does it let slip that his mission might be compromised. He has total confidence in what he set out do, will be done.
You'd be forgiven for thinking this film was cold, with no heart - but its neither of those. One side of that notion is dispelled from the man behind the camera - Meadows, and a real heart coming from Kebbell. Anthony is disabled, and Kebbell portrays this with total respect. Never over or under doing it, and just being a joy to watch. The real moving moments come when Anthony and Richard interact - real brotherly love. Anthony looking up to Richard, and Richard always looking out for his brother. This is not done simply with dialogue but little silent interactions. The way Richard walks infront of Anthony and the way they look at each other. Anthony is also scared, the gang terrify him and we see really daunt in his face at the prospect of seeing them. They way Richard reassures him gives the film some tender moments.
The film is also funny, with the humor being pitch black. 5 men are crammed into a car, blasting out NWA - all wearing horror on their faces knowing their time is up. The joke has to be seen to be digested, but its there. The film is full of this humor - a man squashed in a suitcase, an acid trip (the moment as the camera cuts from the sequence shot from the perspective of the trippers to the view of an onlooker is hilarious)
Its Meadows the director who really is the soul of this film, using the wonderful Midlands scenery to great affect to build up a tone that perfectly suits the action, dialogue performance. The opening sequence we see the brothers trekking across vast, flat Derbyshire fields - often specs in the distance. This place feel barren and beautiful at the same time. A skill Meadows has is being able to say more the any special effects ever could - by simply focusing the camera on the right place. To say he has a keen eye for spotting space and tone in the everyday in an understatement.
The scripting is paced well and has a real feel most has either been improvised of written on the fly. This is seen to best effect when the gang are interacting with each other - if feels very natural. Conversations seem to flow as they would in real life.
The killing range from harsh to bizarre, never gross out - but this film does have a few startling moments.
This film cannot be reviewed without a big nod to the soundtrack. A standout collection on its own, its fits this film well. Aphex Twin, Calexico and Gravenhurst amongs others are fitted so well some scenes could be mistake for music videos. I often think parts of this film must have had the music in mind before hand. The music has a common sound, most of its downbeat and melancholic without never being depressing. Bittersweet ballads.
If you are a film fan and have never seen this, its a no brainier - check it out. Its a must for your collection. If you are a casual fan, its got enough to keep you enertained, and you might even find yourself surprised.
Revenge films have a tendency to be repetitive, Hollywood throwing money at them in an attempt to give viewers at least the appearance of something new. But it's the emotional and raw revenge films, the more artistic ones, that are the best ones for me. The fast paced action and blink or you'll miss it style of films like Taken have a maturity about them but it's more of a facade for a basic film, whereas the Korean classic Old Boy and Tarantino's busy arty series of Kill Bill films have a visceral violence that belies thought and attention to detail.
The believability and raw simplicity of Shane Meadows' Dead Man's Shoes is what wins over on this film and makes it stand out in my mind more so than other revenge films though. Simply shot, and seemingly on a low budget, it's the reality of the setting (a Derbyshire town) and the fact that there are no mod cons or overly dramatic special effects stuttering the proceedings. Richard is a soldier, returning home to exact revenge on the gang of bullies who tormented his mentally challenged younger brother, Anthony.
There are three styles of scene. The quietest is the seemingly contemplative style, as Richard and Anthony hold gentle conversations regarding life and its simplicities. These are done at a seemingly run down farm that the two brothers spend a lot of time. The second style of scene is a stark contrast, shot in black and white. It is a flashback set of scenes, interspersed with the others, which shows the extent of the bullying and torment that the aforementioned gang inflict on Anthony. But it's the third style of scene which really gives it its 18 certificate, as Richard systematically works his way through the gang, ruthless and unforgiving as each one of them pleads for his life, virtually all of them spineless when confronted with an enemy with nothing to lose.
The way the three types of scene work together is expertly done, piecing together the story as we see how each member of the gang has had a hand in Anthony's torment. You would expect the tale to build up to a crescendo, but Meadows doesn't even let this happen, Richard's controlled violence appearing right from the start, exacting similar torment and violence on each member without remorse or sympathy. The violence and fear inducing actions from Richard is powerful to say the least, visually hard to fathom and expertly acted by Paddy Considine, who proves himself to be a fine actor time and time again with roles such as this. Co-writing the script will also have given him the chance to mold this character into someone he can portray effectively, and that's exactly what he does. Fantastic job.
The support must also be commended though, as it's not easy to pretend to be as afraid as the gang characters are. The gang's leader, Sonny, is initially defiant, showing a bit of gumption in the knowledge that it's just one man against their gang of 8 or 9. The face to face individual psychological showdown between Richard and Sonny is a key point in the film, the bravado of Sonny recognising the sheer determination and controlled fury in Richard's eyes wilting and the film then taking its course. It's powerfully done indeed.
Stark and depressing though many of the scenes are, it's the fear factor that actually causes the most riveting aspect of the film. The gang is made to seem like the victimised party here, and this automatically gives you a bit of sympathy towards them, feeling their fear and at times just wishing for Richard to give a little respite, confused as to how the black and white flashback sequences will play out.
By the end of the film though, you feel as if there's justification in Richard's actions as the extent of the torment inflicted on Anthony grows ever worse. Be warned, this film is not for the faint of heart, and there is plenty of graphic violence and potentially nightmare inducing terror in this visually basic but effective thriller. Powerful right to the last scene, there's a gentle quiet about the film when the character driven scenes aren't in play, highlighting the normality of the location and the possibility of all of this is so very real. Meadows' simplicity is why it seems so real, doing away with any over the top influences and actions which might put it in the realms of fiction in our minds. The score is gentle and orchestral, the visuals are slow and languid, patient beyond belief, and it is without doubt one of the most powerful films you could ever watch. I couldn't believe just how powerful it was, and if you think you can stomach its violence, offensive language and occasionally disturbing subject matter, then you're in for a directing and acting treat. Highly recommended.
DEAD MAN'S SHOES (2004)
'God will forgive them. He'll forgive them and allow them into Heaven. I can't live with that.' And so begins the vengeance movie to end all vengeance movies, not that there's anything drastically original about Dead Man's Shoes at first glance. The simple tale of one man returning home to exact revenge on the bullies of his mentally impaired brother, complete with typical slow-burning flashbacks to build up the extent of the crime, seems little different to most other vengeance flicks. But with a complex protagonist for whom few easy answers are offered, a sense of genuine, palpable terror displayed by his quarry and some fine scripting, Dead Man's Shoes excels against many of its contemporaries.
Firstly, however, who would have thought that Matlock, Derbyshire could be shot so beautifully? Whilst the likes of Old Boy and The Crow glimmer with style, there's something a good deal more terrifying about the low-budget action being encapsulated in this small bubble of middle England. The normality of the situation, turning credibly more oppressive and stifling as Richard's (the utterly brilliant Paddy Considine) brand of personal justice grows into something much more sinister and severe is masterful. More so when you consider the fine-tuned ambiguity director Shane Meadow's employs to allow the audience to empathise with the rag-tag crew of petty criminals being terrorised. Sonny's (Gary Stretch) breakdown at one point is remarkable and poignant. Even real bastards, it seems, are regretful of their past when death is on the line. Yet because most of his followers are merely guilty by association, the movie questions the true hall-marks of evil and, beyond that, whether such retribution is justified. It's wonderfully thought-provoking stuff. Even simple scenes such as Richard's reconciliation with his brother are multi-layered when magnified by the films conclusion. Watching one man stare into the abyss and glance at the monsters reflected back at him has never made for such compelling viewing.
Paddy Considine throughout is simply mesmerising. Easily the best British actor working today, he flits between caring and thoughtful consult for his brother to convincing tough guy/nutjob in a heartbeat. It's a magnetic and engaging performance of the titular anti-hero, almost topped by Tony Kebbell's brilliantly understated role as Richard's younger brother. On top of this, there's some fine humour (see the 'goonies' pimp my ride Citroen) juxtaposed against otherwise harrowing scenes (you may struggle to view an ordinary suitcase in much the same way again after watching this) and several stand out moments that seemingly kick sand in the face of Hollywood's finest. Richard's and Sonny's meeting when each weighs the other up is tantalising, intense and to the point in every way that Pacino and De Niro failed to manage in Heat. Likewise, few films have convincingly portrayed a bad acid-trip quite as well as in one particularly outstanding and terrifying scene here.
Sure, Dead Man's Shoes is hellishly dark and utterly brutal, but there's much more on show than in the simple bobbins of Taken. It belies its typical genre conventions, and when you consider the low-budget approach to it all, you can't help but think Dead Man's Shoes is perhaps one of the finest British films ever made. Yep, even better than the seminal British vengeance flick Get Carter. It cannot come more highly recommended than that.
Director: Shane Meadows
Screenplay: Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine
Paddy Considine ... Richard
Gary Stretch ... Sonny
Toby Kebbell ... Anthony
Seamus O'Neill ... Big Al
Stuart Wolfenden ... Herbie
Paul Sadot ... Tuff
Certificate: 18 (deservedly so)
Running Time: 90 minutes (of genius)
© clownfoot. May 2011
We had this dvd sealed and unwatched hanging around the house for ages before a rubbish night on telly drove us to give it a try. Am so glad we did as it was an excellent film although for the first half of the film I felt very much on edge worrying what I might see - having read some reviews and the 18 rating I was expecting it to be more graphic than it actually was.
Paddy Considine is the lead character in the film who I recognised from the fantastic Red Riding series on TV. He plays Richard who has returned to his home town in Derbyshire after being in the army to avenge the wrong done to his younger brother Antony who is mentally handicapped to some extent and in Richard's absence has been abused and taken advantage of by a group of small time thugs/drug dealers. The film flashes back to Richard and Antony's childhood and scenes of the wrong done to Antony while Richard was away tying in with the brutal way Richard metes out his revenge on the group, ensuring your sympathies don't swing towards the victims of Richard's actions. The film is violent certainly but doesn't focus on the actual acts but the aftermath. I found Richard's wearing of a gas mask as he confronts the gang members more menacing than the acts he commits although I'm not sure what the significance of the mask is. In parts the film is even amusing, particularly the sight of the gang crammed into a 2CV convertible as they band together to try and keep safe from Richard.
I have read that the film cost £180,000 to make but if I hadn't read that first I'm not sure I would have had the low budget nature of the film uppermost in my mind as I'm not sure spending any more on the film would have made it any better as it felt very realistic and the acting was brilliant, not just the lead role but all the characters. The only thing I felt was slightly unrealistic was the immediate realisation of each of the gang that Richard's reappearance in town was bad news as I don't believe mindless bullies would have the awareness that what they did to Antony was beyond the pale - if they did I don't think they would have acted in the same manner to start with. That aside I would highly recommend the film to adult viewers.
Richard (Paddy Considine) is a soldier returning to his home town to seek revenge for the bullying and humiliation his mentally challenged brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell) suffered at the hands of a group of degenerate drug dealers and yobs whilst he was away.
As the film develops, we understand that Richard knows all of the people who bullied Anthony and he seeks to show them the error of their ways in no uncertain terms, will he get revenge, will his conscious get the better of him, or will the drug dealers reach him first and resolve the matter in their own way?
Paddy Considine ... Richard
Gary Stretch ... Sonny
Toby Kebbell ... Anthony
Jo Hartley ... Jo
Seamus O'Neill ... Big Al
Stuart Wolfenden ... Herbie
Paul Sadot ... Tuff
Paul Hurstfield ... Mark
Emily Aston ... Patt
George Newton ..Gypsy John
Neil Bell ... Soz
Craig Considine ... Craig
Matt Considine ... Matt
Andrew Shim ... Elvis
Arthur Meadows ... Mourner
This film is one of Shane Meadows early ones and cost only £180,000 to make, it was written by Meadows and Paddy Considine the star of the film, it is set in the Midlands in a quaint town (Bonsall in Derbyshire) that perfectly encapsulates modern England where petty yobs in Shell suits see it as their manner and vilely bully anyone in their way.
The film has been described as a Midlands Western by some, and this description is pretty apt, although this is an ultra-violent Midlands Western more akin to the Chan Park Wook South Korean Vengeance Trilogy in visuals. The story is about a good man returning home to avenge a wrong, like Clint Eastwood, he strolls around town making the bad guys aware he is back to sort them out and the film unravels as he attempts to get them before they get him.
Some have dismissed the film as a dark vengeance film that simply encourages violence, I'd utterly disagree with this, the film does have violence in it, but the ending and the message throughout is more about the fact that violence breeds violence, the hero accepts that by hurting the villains he has become exactly what they are, a bully.
The film is raw, eloquent in its message and surprisingly moral for such a violent flick, it really deserves your attention and rewards you with some stellar performances from the leads and a story that never deviates from its origins too far.
The film is shot in a mix of dark grainy flashbacks showing the regular humiliations inflicted on Anthony by the gang, and in present day as we follow Richard and Anthony on their mission to find each of the bullies. It is beautifully shot, the mix of urban decay and beautiful rangy countryside perfectly fits this film, it gives it a look much more expensive than the money spent on it.
If the film sounds dark and violent it is, but it is also funny, mainly due to the villains, they are small town thugs rather than world class hoodlums, therefore their petty bickering, day to day jibes at each other and the fear that spreads as they realise somebody with some combat skills is standing up to them, is very funny, the villains as an ensemble are very good, Gary Stretch in particular is very menacing as the leader of the thugs. The moment when Sonny (Stretch) shoots a colleague, or when the whole gang (A mix of villains from 30's to 50's) drive around town in a tiny multi-coloured Citreon 2CV playing Gangster rap are highlights, as is the moment when Richard first meets one of the villains and shows his intent with a shot of anger that would make De Niro at his peak tremble.
Richard (Considine) returns to town and systematically shakes up the lives of the bullies, he paints their faces and houses while they sleep to disturb then and build a climate of fear before really getting down to business, one scene in particular where he returns some stolen acid to them in a teapot which they are unaware of as they pour tea and cup noodles is particularly funny and very British.
The film is set into five days, each day Richard builds up his campaign of terror against the thugs, the film is violent and packed with bad language, it is also advisable in part to use subtitles as the midlands slang and muttering can at times be difficult to pick up, however it is all the more realistic for it.
This is one of the things I like about the film, with an unknown cast and many family and friends playing parts, this has a realism that many films don't, some of the dialogue is awkward, but awkward in a real way, there are no real glamour scenes or things done for effect, the script requires the actors only to speak when necessary and leaves plenty of space for awkward silences most natural in daily society.
Paddy Considine is awesome as Richard, as the opening reel of a beautiful countryside pans to him, he says into camera "God will forgive them. He'll forgive them and allow them into Heaven. I can't live with that". That pretty much sums up the film, this man is hell bent at all costs on avenging his brother, but his calmness in facing the bullies and in combatting them is chilling and uncomfortable, his language is spare and he doesn't use words when he doesn't need to, but you know his plans. His acting is exceptional at every point, from simmering anger, to hate to sadness at his own actions and what he has become, this is an understated marvel of a performance, he is rightly one of Britains brightest acting talents and this film is a great showcase of good acting and writing.
Alongside him as the best actor in this piece is Toby Kebbell as Anthony, his performance is never OTT, its not an American Oscar worthy take on a mentally challenged youngster, it is a sweet and innocent portrait of a boy looking for some guidance when his brother joins the army, the humiliation he suffers at the hands of the gang builds up in flashbacks and you can understand the anger Richard feels when allied to his own guilt at leaving his brother to these Jackals. Kebbell is brilliant in his role and his performance is beautiful and a perfect balance to the quiet methodical Richard.
Overall I had read a lot of good things about this film and wanted to see it for ages, I was worried it would be simply a revenge pic, or otherwise a Ken Loach-esque take on a bleak Midlands landscape. However, for me it's the best Meadows film I've seen, its funny, It is violent, but there is a reason behind the protagonist's actions, and a thoughtful and emotive ending which does give a clear moral compass that violence is wrong and that we must all take responsibility for our actions.
It also makes the distinction that most bullies are simply that and as soon as somebody stands up to them, they will panic and you can appreciate they were never as tough as they seemed, the film was shot in the early 2000's when yob culture in the UK was starting to take hold, when street gangs were causing torment for people of all ages, this is a cathartic look at bullies and their victims and as much as you can't condone violence, the comeuppance of these vile thugs is uplifting.
The music is an essential part of the film and helps build key moments and create momentum, the cinematography is excellent and I'm shocked at the budget for this, it is a really good British film and proves that a camera, a good story and some decent actors, are more important than 50 Million dollars of crashes and bangs.
Available for £2.99 in HMV, it is also available from Amazon and Play, it is a film you'll either enjoy or find slightly violent, but give it a chance and watch the nuances of the characters, there is a really good twist and the hero and villains are really memorable.
Favourite Character - Considine's Richard is a mix of heroic and tortured, a hero who prefers actions to words, but when he speaks, he makes a lot of sense. His final scenes are heart breaking and his methodical technique to beat the bullies is worth watching.
Funniest Moment - Toss up between the gang driving round in the silliest car you'll see, playing Gangster Rap, or when two goons sit reading out Gentlemans Magazine articles to each other at the beginning.
Best Line (Edited) - You know why people give kids drugs? So they can control their minds. 'Cause they're ****ing weak-minded themselves.
The first time I saw this was in 2006 and I rented it from Blockbuster, I really enjoyed it but didn't give it another thought until 2008 when I came across it in HMV. After that I watched it a thousand times! This is my all time favourite movie!
'God will forgive them. He will forgive them and allow them into heaven. I can't live with that.'
Shot in various places around Matlock, the movie follows brothers Anthony, who has a learning disability, and Richard. Richard has just returned from the army and, through a series of flashbacks, you soon learn that he has come to take revenge on a group of thugs who took advantage of Anthony whilst he was away.
The beginning of the movie seems very calm, shots of the brothers walking through fields and flashbacks of their childhood. However, it soon becomes very violent as we get to know Richard better and he takes his revenge. There are also more calm scenes where the brothers talk about their childhoos etc and you can see how strong the bond between them is.
I don't want to give too much away so I will leave it at that. If you liked Shane Meadows' 'This Is England' you will love this, 100% better!! I look out for Shane Meadows' movies and this is still my favourite. Please please watch it!
"God will forgive them. He'll forgive them and allow them into Heaven. I can't live with that".
Shane Meadow's 2004 film is one of the most beautiful, atmospheric yet violent films to have been seen for a long time. While on the one hand it is a bloody and violent story of revenge, on the other it is an artistically shot and moving story of brotherly love set against an idyllic English countryside. As someone who is in general not a fan of films which are violent enough to be rated 18, I was somewhat surprised to find Dead Man's Shoes to be one of the best films that I've seen in a while.
When Richard returns to his West Midlands hometown after being away in the army for quite some time, he reunites with his mentally handicapped brother, Anthony, and the two stay in an abandoned farm just out of town. Richard has come home to exact revenge on a group of men in town who took advantage of his simple sibling, and although they are all 'hard' drug dealers, they all quake in their boots on discovering that the army man is back. Richard is not shy and makes it clear that he is there because of them, and it's not long before they're all panicking about what he's capable of.
While the viewer knows from very early on that this group of men did something terrible to Anthony, it is only slowly revealed exactly what that was through the form of flashbacks to one particular day when the young man came to one of their houses. While a lot of the scenes from the past show them taking advantage of him and doing bad things such as forcing drugs on the boy, most things don't seem bad enough for the men to deserve what Richard is doing to them, and so it is interesting to watch and wait to find out just what the final straw was.
While the story and atmosphere of this film were excellent, it is the quality of the acting which, in my opinion, makes this film nothing short of a masterpiece. Paddy Considine is superb as the formidable Richard, and plays many of his scenes with a powerful lack of outward emotion which perfectly shows his contempt for the group who wronged his brother as well as making him a scary yet excellent character. The group (played by actors including Gary Stretch and Stuart Wolfenden) perfectly appear simultaneously hard and violent in their community and visibly freaked and terrified once Richard makes his presence known. Scenes such as the one where three of the group are in a small bathroom at the same time (one on the loo, one in the bath and one just sitting with them) because they are too scared to be by themselves at any one time were perfect in showing the group dynamic, and how although Sonny (Stretch) was arguably the leader of the group, he too was reduced to a frightened child at the appearance of someone with more power and presence than he has. Toby Kebell, however, gave the best performance of all as the slightly slower Anthony. According to an interview with Shane Meadows on the special features on the DVD, Kebell was only hired for the part several hours before filming started, yet had managed to perfect the part over his train journey to the set without coming across as over the top or unrealistic as a mentally disabled person. His fairly childlike facial expressions and slight slurring of his voice make him seem believably disabled without seeming clichéd in any way. My mother, who I watched the film with, has worked with mentally disabled children for years, and was very impressed with how true and accurate Kebell's portrayal of this character was. The short scenes with the two brothers together were beautiful to watch, and were the only real moments in which Richard was not cold and businesslike.
Dead Man's Shoes was wonderfully directed, shot, written and acted, and it was amazing to see violence mixed with love, humour and suspense in such a perfectly balanced and impressive way. This was a film set in a working class environment with some working class themes and characters, and although my background has been very different to that of the people in this film, I didn't feel detached from it or as though I couldn't relate to any of the characters, which I believe is down to its excellent direction. Shane Meadows describes in the special features how he grew up thinking that skinheads and violence were the epitomes of cool, until some events in his early adolescence caused him to want to grow away from this lifestyle. His past experiences and familiarities with this world make this film work particularly well, and it was believable to me that people such as the group of men in this film really do exist.
Dead Man's Shoes is, in my opinion, well deserving of its 4 wins and 18 nominations for awards, and is well worth a watch even if you don't think this is traditionally to your tastes. For only £3.64 on Amazon the DVD is an amazing bargain, and is one of the best British films to come out of the last decade. Highly recommended.
Shane Meadows' films may be low budget, but don't confuse that with low quality. With their emphasis on strong, realistic and sympathetic characters and believable plotlines Hollywood could certainly learn a thing or two from the East Midland's finest... if only Hollywood were prepared to listen.
On the face of it, Dead Man's Shoes has a very simple idea. Richard, a disaffected soldier returns from the army to take revenge on the people who tortured his mentally disabled brother whilst he was away.
Yet, there is a complexity betraying this apparently simple tale and Meadows and his actors imbue it with a strong sense of drama, tension and atmosphere. Dead Man's Shoes is a heady mix of comedy, drama and revenge thriller. None of it is particularly new, but Meadows makes it feel fresh by giving everything a slightly different spin.
The comedy comes from the interactions between the various drug-dealers - little boys pretending to be big hard men - who find themselves running scared when faced with a real hard man. There is a real sense of camaraderie and banter between the drug dealers (their banter over al fresco is particularly amusing), yet Meadows is careful to ensure that they remain characters, not caricatures. Even when the plot gradually reveals what they have done, these are still times when you find them fun and highly likeable, rather than criminals who have tormented and tortured an innocent.
This group is well-played by a relatively unknown group of actors. Indeed, it's precisely the fact they are unknown which lends the film some extra power, adding to the gritty, realistic, documentary style common to so many of Meadows' films. Better known actors simply would not have blended in so well to the bleak environment and without that the film would have lost much of its heart and credibility.
Stuart Wolfenden is fun as Herbie, someone who revels in his "bad boy" image, but is soon out of his depth as events take a darker turn. Although Wolfenden is partly there to provide some comic relief, he also proves a slightly pathetic, yet sympathetic character.
Former boxer Gary Stretch is on fine form as self-proclaimed drug baron Sunny and proves himself more than a match for anyone he shares a scene with. By turns inept and chilling, Stretch's performance is carefully nuanced and once again goes beyond standard "evil drug baron" territory, creating a realistic and believable character, drunk on the power he has over his rag-tag band of followers.
Only really Paul Hurstfield disappoints as Mark. In fairness, this is partly because we only get to see him properly right towards the end of the film. Unlike the others, who crop up time and time again and have chance to build their characters, Mark's appearance, though crucial to the plot is quite brief. As such, it lacks the emotional impact the role needs and leaves you with a slightly empty feeling.
The really superb acting, however, comes from Meadows' mate Paddy Considine. Richard is charismatic, fun, full of pent-up rage and absolutely deadly. Dead Man's Shoes could have turned into little more than a bog-standard revenge flick - masked killer slowly picks off those who have wronged him. Yet, Considine is careful to ensure that Richard always remains human - he appears as a person far more than as an avenging angel and, through his relationship with his brother (the equally superb Toby Kebbell) we see a softer, more emotional side. Considine invests Richard with such a sense of humanity that we are prepared to forgive him his actions.
The real wallop comes through a very cleverly and carefully crafted story. What on face value appears to be a simple tale of revenge slowly takes on extra dimensions. As past events are slowly unravelled (through the limited, but highly effective use of flashback scenes) the truth slowly beings to dawn on us and we realise where the film is heading. Even though many people will have worked out the ending long before it happens, it still packs an emotional punch when it comes. As you reach the end of the film, Meadows has slowly, almost imperceptibly increased the tension to such an extent that you may well find yourself forgetting to breath.
Importantly, Meadows knows not to overstretch things. The film comes in at around the 90 minute mark, which helps maintain this tense atmosphere. There are no unnecessary plot complications or diversions intended to extend the length of the film. Meadows simply tells his tale and when it is done, he stops; just as it should be.
On the downside, anyone who comes to this expecting a standard horror/slasher film will be very disappointed. Most of the murders are done off-camera or dealt with very quickly. There are a few mildly gruesome shots, but only for those with the weakest of stomachs, the screen is never awash with blood. Richard is not a frenzied killer, dispatching his victims in a series of elaborate set-pieces; he is cold and calculating, almost merciful in the rapidity with which he kills. If you want Halloween or A Nightmare on Elm Street, look elsewhere.
If you are easily offended by bad language, you might want to do the same. In keeping with his realistic setting, Meadows employs very earthy language. Liberal use of both the F and C words occur throughout and whilst this is realistic language for drug-dealers and bad guys to use, some may find it offensive.
Dead Man's Shoes is a superb piece of film-making. Taking a simple storyline we think we know, it gives things a new twist and, thanks to a heavy (but never overplayed) dose of emotion, has real heart too. It's possible Shane Meadows might be capable of making a bad film, but Dead Man's Shoes certainly isn't it.
Dead Man's Shoes
Director: Shane Meadows
Running time: approx. 90 minutes
© Copyright SWSt 2010
One of my all-time favourite films and for me Shane Meadows's best.
The film follows Richard (Paddy Considine - one of the finest things to happen to British cinema since British cinema began), a paratrooper who's returned home to take out revenge on those who tormented his mentally ill brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell - who plays Anthony astoundingly, it's a shame his acting prowress isn't being put to much use recently - from this to Prince of Persia is a crime).
Richard starts to pretty much hunt down the gang one by one, whilst he and Anthony hide out in a barn on an abandoned farm. The deaths are relatively gruesome but nothing exactly over the top and truly disgusting. The point of this film is not to be a gore-fest. It's a representation of gang mentality and just how far some people will go for their families. The acting performances in this film are wonderful, beautifully rendered through Shane Meadows brilliance in storytelling.
The locations are beautiful and create a stark contrast to the atrocities that happen with him. The evil in man lies everywhere - beautiful or not.
Dead Man's Shoes is a harrowing British film about a guilt ridden soldier named Richard (played by Paddy Considine) who has come back to his home town to get revenge for his brother, who suffers from mental problems, and was tortured by yobs.
I have to admit, this is a hard film to watch in certain places and it really pulls you in as a viewer.
It does a good job of making you feel sympathy and sadness for Richard and what happened to his brother and pure hatred for the nasty thugs who did what they did, in much the same way as The Crow films managed to do but, in my opinion, 10 times worse!
As the film unfolds, we are told in progressive flashbacks what really happened to him.
At first, you may think that what Richard is doing is a tad harsh but by the end of the movie, you will have felt that his actions were totally justified.
The villains, themselves, are not intimidating as such but are portrayed to be both pieces of nasty trash and cowards for their actions.
This movie strives to keep to realism and there is nothing outlandish about the movie.
The score for the film is quite diverse and it is an element that makes you feel different emotions for different scenes.
The flashback scenes are accompanied by a score that evoke sadness and tragedy and when Richard is about to get revenge, you feel a sense of doom but a doom that's justified.
Performances are terrific, especially from Considine and Toby Kebbell (who plays Richard's brother, Anthony).
The pace is swift and because of the subject matter, I can't see anyone getting bored while watching this.
In my view, this is one of the best British films made and it goes to show what can be done on a low budget!
That's the problem these days, there are too many Hollywood productions which sacrifice a good story and they forget how to bring out emotions of the viewer, instead opting for big budget SFX to do the job.
Perhaps if they focused less on money and more on story, film studios wouldn't be complaining how many dollars they have been losing due to piracy!
So, it's good to see there are still some gems out there that are made with ambition, no matter the budget and limited resources.
Watch this one, if you don't feel anything for the characters or the situations in this film, then you are made of stone!
I think it's one of the best British films made.
Harrowing thriller about a hotwired ex-soldier (co-scripter Paddy Considine from Cinderella Man) who returns to his sleepy Midlands hometown to dole out merciless revenge upon the booze and drug-sodden hoodlums who abused his mentally handicapped younger brother (the astonishing Toby Kebbel). Director Shane Meadows (Once Upon a Time in the Midlands) doesn't shy away from delivering scenes of gripping suspense and violence, but the end result hews closer to an ambiguous meditation on the nature and effect of vengeance a la Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs than a Death Wish-style grindhouse effort. Taut and thought-provoking, Dead Man's Shoes is a must-see for indie film aficionados with a taste for the grittiest of fare. The DVD includes some rollicking commentary by Meadows, Considine, and producer Mark Herbert; an intriguing and heartfelt featurette on Meadows and his own violent past as a teenage skinhead in 1980s England, from which he drew inspiration for this film; and an alternate (and somewhat less satisfying) final scene. -- Paul Gaita