Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
“God will forgive them, he’ll forgive them and allow them into heaven. I can’t live with that.”
I love those rare moments as a film fan when you watch something on a mere whim and end up being blown away. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience this an indecent number of times recently and it leaves me wondering, can’t a guy find a good frog anymore?
Dead Man’s Shoes is a pure and brutal vengeance flick tempered with elements that are almost slasher (à la My Bloody Valentine). Richard (Paddy Considine) has returned from the army to a dreary town and his good-natured brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell), who is mentally disabled. During Richards’s absence a group of unsavoury characters from the town led by Sonny (Gary Stretch) had taken advantage of his brother, we don’t immediately know how but as the film progresses we are allowed snippets of their misdemeanours in the form of flashbacks. Richard wastes no time and begins to wreak a bloody and merciless retribution for his brother, systematically working his way through all those involved. The plot is simple and is certainly well-trodden ground but somehow director Shane Meadows has managed to craft one of the most intense and heart-breaking movies that I have seen since, well since I saw Tony a few weeks ago.
For the most part the acting is above average, with the usual stock British actors’ who support valiantly but there is a standout, Paddy Considine. He’s subtlety and poise is nothing short of amazing and he lifts the movie to giddy heights. You get a feeling, a suspicion at first but later confirmed, that the placidity he exudes and the almost playful manner he plays with the men he will go on to butcher is barely masking a furious rage that that will consume anyone who provokes it. The transition that Richard goes through, calm to mad and then to broken is both massively compelling and displays incredibly impressive skills on the part of Mr Considine.
Not knowing the immediate cause for his actions makes you uneasy as to whether you are supportive of the justice he delivers but the frequent showcasing of the tender side he exhibits to Anthony make him impossible not to like. The film eventually culminates in an agonizing apex that finally reveals the full truth to the audience. The barrage doesn’t stop there; the ending is disturbing and unexpected, really playing with the audiences emotions.
It seems that British horror has been on point this decade and is continuing to offer harrowing and gritty movies that set audiences alight, in a very subtle way. This movie is a rare treat for anyone who likes a deep insight into a fractured persons psyche and the exploration of guilt, justice and morality.
Video sourced from Youtube.