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Dead Man's Shoes

Other // Unrated // March 10, 2005 // Region 2
List Price: $40.00 [Buy now and save at Sendit]

Review by Todd Brown | posted April 6, 2005 | E-mail the Author
If ever a film has had a more ominous opening line than Shane Meadows' Dead Man's Shoes I certainly have never come across it. "God will forgive them. He will forgive them and allow them into heaven," comes the flat, emotionless voice of Paddy Considine's Richard. "I can't live with that." Clearly something bad has happened. Something very bad. Equally clearly something far, far worse lies in the immediate future.

Dead Man's Shoes revolves around Anthony (Toby Kebell) and Richard (Paddy Considine), brothers born and raised in the British midlands. Younger brother Anthony is an utter innocent, a man-child with some sort of developmental problem that has left him "simple" – sweet, trusting and open to abuse. Elder brother Richard has just returned from a stint in the military and, on learning that his younger brother has been badly mistreated by the local gang of drug dealers and petty thugs Richard sets out on a bloody rampage, carving his way through the gang aiming to terrorize and punish those who abused his brother.

So it's a straight forward revenge flick, yes? Well, on paper yes, you could say that, but Dead Man's Shoes stands well above other films in the genre for a good number of reasons. First there is writer-director Shane Meadows. Not only does he have a superb gift for visuals but Meadows is obviously speaking from experience here. As a born and raised midlander himself who dabbled in petty crime and the skinhead movement in his youth Meadows has created a world here that rings absolutely true. True enough that some may actually have a bit of trouble tracking the dialect and linguistic tics of the characters but once the ear adjusts the authentic dialog and character relationships take the film well out of the everyday. Second is co-writer, lead actor and frequent Meadows collaborator Paddy Considine. Considine is a fierce, fearless actor with shocking layers upon layers of depth and subtlety. His performance as Richard is simply staggering, a mercurial tour de force leaping effortlessly from violence, anger and menace to touching quiet when interacting with Anthony, bursts of absurd humor and a deep, deep sorrow. Between this film, the upcoming Focus Features release of My Summer of Love – in which he again steals the show – and a role in Ron Howard's Cinderella Man we could very well be seeing the emergence of Considine as a major star around the world. At the very least he should be considered a character actor on par with Daniel Day Lewis. Considine is really that good. Throw into the mix a surprisingly balanced script that keeps all of the characters well away from the land of cliché, some truly haunting imagery and a fantastic soundtrack largely populated by Calexico, Will Oldham and the like and you've got the total package.

And what of the DVD? Video is in anamorphic widescreen and though there is some softness and pattern blurring it looks to me as though these are issues coming from a DV sourced film rather than any sort of mastering problem. Audio is of the 5.1 variety and the disc is stacked up with extras: commentary, deleted and extended scenes, an alternate ending, a featurette on director Shane Meadows and the development of the film, a short film, scenes from the graphic novel adaptation of the film a music video and some hidden stuff. On the whole it's a solid presentation of an excellent film. Highly recommended.

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Highly Recommended

E - M A I L
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