Disaffected soldier Richard (Paddy Considine) returns to his hometown to exact sadistic revenge on the thugs responsible for brutalising his mentally-challenged younger brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell) years previously. What ensues is clever, dark and completely brutal but with a story so heartrending and a twist so unexpected that you cannot help but fall in love with the film’s troubled protagonist.
Meadows’ low budget style and his use of local, familiar British locations gives Dead Man’s Shoes a gritty atmosphere which makes the harrowing and ultimately quite upsetting storyline all the more powerful. With an emphasis on realism, Meadows attempts to represent the gritty underbelly of British society; a theme that continued throughout his work and brought us the brilliant This is England two years later. Although an incredibly simple technique, this gritty realism gives the film a depth that makes it completely enthralling from beginning to end.
A simple yet unpredictable plot works so effectively in this claustrophobic, minimal little film which centres around a small group of people and one man’s love for his brother. Considine’s performance as the troubled ex soldier Richard is the most powerful part of the film and he plays the role with such charisma and attention to detail that the character becomes incredibly formidable. Richard is a terrifying protagonist and throughout the film you’re never sure just how far he’s willing to go to avenge his brother. His screen presence, particularly when completely silent, is incredible to watch and the scenes where he dons a gas mask to terrorise the group of men are actually darker and scarier than most home invasion horror films, which ultimately attempt to create a very similar effect.
A fantastic example of British cinema, so gritty and dark that it verges on terrifying. Considine’s performance is absolutely incredible and the twist at the end is brilliantly executed. Shane Meadows is a fantastic director and Dead Man’s Shoes is one of his films that’s definitely a must watch.