Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dead Man's Shoes (2004)


Soldier, Richard (Paddy Considine), returns to his home town to exact violent and mental revenge of the group of local small-time drug dealers that tortured his mentally disabled brother, Anthony (Toby Kebbell).

I've been a ever growing fan of Paddy Considine since I first saw him in Hot Fuzz, followed by The Bourne Ultimatum, Cinderella Man, and Pu-239 (an overlooked drama from '07). So, as you can imagine, I had to see the film that won him several acting awards, and international recognition in 2004. Dead Man's Shoes if by most accounts your typical dark look at a man seeking revenge, and the true cost it has on all those involved.

The character of Richard is a hard one to associate with, he's never really explained, quiet, aggressive, unmerciful, nor that nice to his brother, who follows him on his return trip. So much so that he manages to be more off putting than the local dumb drug dealers, who are more pathetic in their attempts to look tough than they really are. Perhaps that's the point though, to seek truly brutal revenge you have to be all of that, and those you kill aren't always what they try to look on the outside.

In that respect I admire what the film does, you really end up seeing the attacks not through the eyes of Richard, but rather through the eyes of the those who revenge is being taken upon. This is backed by a generally (not always) good use of the steady cam by director Meadows. Blending the dark present with a black and white look at the happiness, humiliation, and mental anguish Anthony suffered at the hands of those he thought were his friends.

Though I have to admit up until the end I was very on the fence about this film, too dark, not quite dark enough, is it a 4,5,6, maybe worse? Then the final confrontation. The final conversation between Richard and the last surviving gang member... I'll admit I nearly shed a tear. It's powerful, thought provoking, and Considine pulls it off with amazing realism. A true look into the mind of this seemingly level headed Richard, who inacted these violent acts of revenge without second thought.

Dead Man's Shoes might be by the numbers, and hard to swallow, but it's finale makes up for so many of its faults you should try and watch it at least once.

*as a side note: the accents in the film are very heavy, so you may want to give it a go with subtitles (I had too) just in case.

1 better thoughts:

filmgeek said...

Love this film. Considine is awesome and I thought after all of the violence in the film the ending was perfect

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