TRY WALKING IN THOSE SHOES
Anton Ilinski | Moscow, Russia | 07/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Dead Man's Shoes" starts as an ordinary revenge flick. Its only zest, as I thought in twenty minutes after the beginning, was that the action takes place in a little suburban English town, and that adds a little coloring to the commonplace theme. And just how great it is when films don't fit your expectations, and I mean when they end up being much deeper and thoughtful than you could ever imagine.
The subject of revenge has a lot of ground beneath it to philosophize and make smart films. But writers and directors don't always push the envelope, limiting themselves with a poor choice of story-lines and developments. Hence we get stupid exploitation flicks (no offence - I love them myself). But if creators of a picture are willing to use their brains at full - we get a chance to see outstanding examples of a very good quality cinema (I'd recall "Se7en" or "Unforgiven"). "Dead Man's Shoes" is absolutely such an example. It's a shame the film is not well known because it really deserves to be.
Richard is coming back from the army to his small town. He's got one thing on his mind - to punish the gang of local small-time drug dealers who bullied and tormented his younger retarded brother. And his vengeance will be severe... That's it, I'll say no more, because closer to the end the movie turns out to be not exactly what you expected it to be. It's thoughtful and extremely powerful, it has twists, it's an exploration of a man's madness, of his slow descent into insanity, it's about hangman and victim and about how difficult is sometimes to tell the difference. It raises serious questions and it will make you ponder. I was utterly surprised - what started as a banal vengeance movie then turned into something vicious, grave and not at all light-hearted. The acting was just compelling. Paddy Considine ("In America", "Cinderella Man") created a very truthful and unforgettable character, Toby Kebbel, whom I haven't seen before, was just amazing as mentally-challenged Anthony, and as a thug leader we can see Gary Stretch whose face you'll never forget if you've seen him once.
I haven't heard about director Shane Meadows before, but now I'm definately going to trace his career, for "Dead Man's Shoes" is not just one of the best British films I've seen, but it's one of the best films I've generally seen.
Try to catch this film, I'm sure you won't regret it."
Powerful, intense and at time disturbing drama
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 09/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""God will forgive them...let them into Heaven...I can't live with that" - Richard during his opening monologue in "Dead Man's Shoes".
Opening with this disturbing monologue the film "Dead Man's Shoes" has an authentic ring to its portrayal of thugs living in the midlands of England. A dark, disturbing but powerful drama of revenge "Dead man's Shoes" follows Richard (Paddy Constantine) a returning military vet who seeks revenge against a group of petty drug dealers who used and abused his developmentally disabled young brother. He begins terrorizing them by appearing in gas mask and military fatigues silently beckoning for one of the dealers to come outside. He then vandalizes their apartment and gradually escalates his private little war. What's unusual about this film is that it isn't your standard revenge flick. Clearly the director pulled from his personal experience. Evidently he was a skinhead and did more than his fair share of illegal things as a youth. He knows these people how they think talk and behave. Constantine gives a stunning performance as the vengeful angry Richard. Shot on film with a lot of handheld camera work the film has a vibrancy and immediacy that's lacking in what we see from Hollywood. Perhaps that just adds to the power of the film or makes it unconventional looking enough to make an impression either way despite the thick sometimes difficult to follow midland accents the film builds to a powerful conclusion by the end of its nearly two hour running time.
Those interested in extras read on the rest of you can skip this part. We get a featurette on the director Shane Meadows discussing his inspiration for and production of the film. We also get a commentary by Meadows, his star and co-writer Paddy Considine (who appeared on "Cinderella Man" recently) and producer Mark Herbert. It's an articulate and intelligent commentary track that occasionally strays to the obvious related to what we're seeing on the screen to discourse on the world that the trio drew inspiration from. We also get deleted scenes and an alternate ending for those that prefer to see director's second guessing themselves.
A powerful, fascinating revenge drama "Dead Man's Shoes" is more than a cut above most movies of this type due to the intense performance of Considine (and exceptional support from the rest of the cast) and Meadows' perceptive observations about these individuals. Well made and directed Meadows and Considine both have a promising future ahead of them based on watching this fine film. Terrific film that I'd recommend renting before buying to see if this is a film that you will watch again.
A fine film made something more resonant by a truly remarkab
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 10/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been waiting for Shane Meadows to make a film that fulfilled the promise his short films showed ever since seeing his short film Where's the Money, Ronny?, and with Dead Man's Shoes he finally delivers. It's a remarkable reimagining of Death Wish as it would be in the real world, set among tatty Midlands housing estates with villains with [...] cars and a pathetic array of mail order weaponry. Shot very effectively in a style somewhere between Italian neo-realism, early Scorsese and even Cassavettes improv but with a flavor all its own, it doesn't matter that one of the plot twists is very obvious (so obvious, in fact, I'm not even sure that it's even meant to be a twist) because co-writer Paddy Considine is such a riveting yet natural presence in the lead: he's able to be genuinely threatening while keeping it absolutely real, creating a very believable monster. There's no vanity, no attempt to go for the cool or the comic (if anything he undercuts the character's attempts to do so without ever becoming a cheap joke) and little in the way of grandstanding. And the gutted close-up of Considine closing his eyes in a bus shelter is a truly remarkable piece of acting without acting. In an industry where lightweights like Clive Owen get lead roles thrown at them, he's the real thing and quite possibly the greatest British actor of his generation.
Not for everyone, perhaps (the reception in the US has been particularly poor), but one of the best low-budget British films in a long time. An excellent extras package, too.
Revenge thriller with a very sharp edge
Lou Knee | England | 04/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great smallish budget British thriller set in beautiful but depressed post industrial Derbyshire, and this is for a reason - Director Meadows as a Midlander himself knew the setting was right for this hard story of drug abuse and revenge, and it becomes one of the key characters of the movie. This is a masterful setting for such a movie, as it really sends a message that this is what drugs can do to an area that on the surface looks idylic. It was the best feature of the movie for me, although other aspects are well worth a mention, such as the direct and no nonsense narrative of revenge with a capital R, the hard brutal language used, the dark humour in the screenplay, the depiction of low life scumbag drug dealers and druggie wasters, and the gritty, naturalistic acting.
Top of the acting bill with a ferociously direct performance is Paddy Considine, co-writer of the piece, and not far behind is the guy who plays his vulnerable brother. Worth a mention also is the very good performance of pro boxer turned actor Gary Stretch (a very good light middleweight with an excellent record who foolishly stepped up a division when in his prime to challenge for the world middleweight title in the 90s against the then unbeatable Chris Eubank, a move which ended his credibility as a top pro), showing what a good actor he's become, in a prominent role as the drug dealer who controls the area, the Mr. Big that revenger Richard wants to bag most of all. Great British stuff, way better than the London gangland thrillers of recent years, and the best example of raw and original British movie talent at the moment. It is already a classic and rightly so."