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Overall Rating
4.58

Awesome69.01%
Worth A Look: 25.35%
Average: 2.82%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 2.82%

2 reviews, 59 user ratings


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Dead Man's Shoes
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by Scott Weinberg

"A 'revenge tale' with more on its mind than blood and bullets."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL: Upon close inspection, there's not really a whole lot of meat on the Revenge Movie concept. Someone, usually a woman or a child, is treated very poorly, thereby inciting the audience's sympathy. Then a justice-seeker pops on to the scene to dole out the sort of nasty punishments that we're programmed to crave. Charles Bronson's "Death Wish" sequels are not much more than simple pornography, only we're given guns and bulletholes instead of jigglin' genitalia. But here comes a revenge tale that doesn't glorify its nastiness, and delivers a tale that's as grimly satisfying as it is sadly insightful.

Talented young British filmmaker Shane Meadows (Once Upon a Time in the Midlands) has a gift for capturing the impoverished minutae of his characters. The setting for Dead Man's Shoes is a crumbling little burg known as Derbyshire, and it's a stark little place indeed. The only folks who seem to be enjoying themselves here are the seedy drug dealers - and even those guys don't seem all that content.

Returning after eight years away soldiering is Richard, a stoic and quietly infuriated young man. Seems that the local thugs spent one LSD-induced afternoon doing some truly unpleasant things to Richard's mentally-unbalanced little brother, and here comes Richard to settle that score.

Plot-wise, that's pretty much it. There's not a whole lot on the narrative skeleton here, but director Meadows creates a half-dozen effortlessly compelling characters. Sure, there may not be any that we actually like - but they're still pretty interesting to watch nonetheless. As Richard methodically sets up his somewhat elaborate schemes of vengeance, we're offered a handful of sobering flashbacks in which the depths of the slime's crimes are eventually revealed.

What makes Dead Man's Shoes more deserving of attention and admiration is that it doesn't glorify its violence or leer at the nastiness of it all. This is not the sort of Revenge Flick where you pump your fist and yell "Yeah, go kill 'em!" There's a moody sadness and quiet desperation to the movie...as if these characters are destined for doom from the word go, and while you don't exactly mind watching Richard earn his revenge, it's not a whole lot of Chuck Bronson-fun. One extended sequence, in which Richard laces the villains' tea with a variety of narcotics, is both sickly satisfying and truly unsettling.

The key to the whole thing is in how Richard is portrayed, and Mr. Meadows was very fortunate indeed to snag Paddy Considine (In America) for the lead role. From his initial exchange of dialogue with one of the local thugs, which is delivered in a horrific and poisonous hiss, Considine commands our attention - if not necessarily our sympathy. It's a very tough and potentially unsympathetic role, but the gifted young actor absolutely nails it in every conceivable fashion.

Considine's Richard is not interested in simple acts of bang-bang revenge. His plans are sometimes convoluted, and his motivations soon become clear. He wants to terrify and mentally torture this sleazy gang of drug-slinging slimebags. Precisely WHY he needs to exact such an extreme vengeance doesn't become entirely clear until the film's finale...but let's just say that the bastards really did deserve it.

Clearly Meadows is more interested in the cyclical nature of hatred and retribution than he is in "Oooh, go KILL that bad guy!" - and that's a refreshing approach to this sort of tale. "Dead Man's Shoes" is not a flashy or invigorating movie, but it does offer ample food for thought on why the human animal so often seeks vengeance...and what the avenger ultimately becomes when all is said and done.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10339&reviewer=128
originally posted: 09/14/04 00:32:28
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Atlanta Film Festival For more in the 2005 Atlanta Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/04/14 Langano Well done. 4 stars
9/09/10 PAUL SHORTT GRITTY BUT GRIPPING 3 stars
8/25/10 Darkstar F-ing amazing revenge flick. 5 stars
5/26/08 ben dover stunning and chilling considine is mezmerising 5 stars
4/27/07 BRIAN FLETCHER Hit the spot just right: absolutely authentic, just like the thug/drug scene here 5 stars
11/21/06 Coollins What an amazing film. Anyone who has ever taken Acid will appreciate the horror 5 stars
10/26/06 Anthony Totally identifiable; whether the scum, victim, or avenger. There by the grace of god go I 5 stars
10/25/06 neil marsden brilliant movie. make it your mission to see it 5 stars
10/12/06 Bob Very Good movie 5 stars
9/29/06 Les Armour Makes 'Get Carter' look like 'Sesame St!' 5 stars
8/23/06 pete.chesworth poor mans get carter 4 stars
6/01/06 Mase Slight English Death Wish, not nearly as viscious as you are hearing. 3 stars
2/15/06 Reklc Great tale of revenge (which always ends with yourself), great acting from Considine. 5 stars
10/11/05 Andy Meadows delivers once again 5 stars
9/29/05 Michael Blower Compelling 5 stars
9/22/05 Jack Crompton Dour, unsettling, fascinating 4 stars
8/22/05 Wasp Stunning. Not for the faint hearted 5 stars
8/03/05 Aimie cannon and jasmin willams i think his shoes r dead 1 stars
7/03/05 Q-bert Really great movie. Very touching, Very real, Very Good!! 5 stars
6/28/05 Vicks Wicked! 5 stars
6/20/05 Sharon Evans Didn't think he could beat Romeo Brass, But he has!!! 5 stars
6/15/05 drifterQ Dead Amazing Shoes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/30/05 Burnt Well...there are still better films out there.... 1 stars
5/24/05 Helen Smith I am so glad that Shane's films are starting to get the recognition they deserve! 5 stars
5/20/05 susan varney spellbinding 5 stars
4/23/05 SqauddieMick Stand back Maddona Ritchie, Meadows is the real deal!!!! 5 stars
4/18/05 Julie Mullin Absolutely Brill!! 5 stars
4/05/05 Geordie Boy Classic, Classic, Classic! 5 stars
4/01/05 craig varney great movie is revenge so sweet? 4 stars
3/18/05 Lofty Great Film, Great music, Makes Vera Drake look like Albion Market.. 5 stars
3/08/05 Peter Beech Destined to become a classic!!!! 5 stars
2/27/05 Alex Cherrie thought it was very good. 4 stars
2/03/05 Jade Barrett Will never leave me. Straight into my top ten 5 stars
1/14/05 Doober You must see this film. Wow! 5 stars
12/17/04 ChipMeater Finally arrived in Stoke. Well worth the wait. 5 stars
12/02/04 WesCrayon A classic. Move over Mike Leigh 5 stars
11/27/04 Craigy Britains best director delivers his best! 5 stars
11/27/04 Pete Theelke First meadows film I've seen. Will see all of them now. A brilliant piece of work. 5 stars
11/23/04 Craig Wright Thought provoking, entertaining, and distrubing. Loved it. 5 stars
11/17/04 WallyTT Why is this not on in every screen in England? 5 stars
11/15/04 Cathy Superb 5 stars
10/29/04 Sean G Loved it! 5 stars
10/26/04 Bev Very thought provoking film. Will try to watch other meadows films after this 1! 5 stars
10/25/04 Steve Ronksley Hard hitting and funny 5 stars
10/18/04 Kelly Lewis Avoids genre cliches. Unflinching violence. Disturb yourself... Go on! 5 stars
10/15/04 Steve Povey Very shocking, yet touching. Best film of the year by a mile. 5 stars
10/14/04 Graham A model for a new kind of horror - real, slow-burning, nightmarish. 5 stars
10/13/04 Julia Forde A truly great work. 5 stars
10/03/04 Mickey McMonkey No-one does England's underbelly quite like Shane Meadows. Superb. 5 stars
9/30/04 Mike An instant cult classic. Straw Dogs eat your heart out. 5 stars
9/26/04 Alison G Wow! 5 stars
9/25/04 CarMan Acid sequence is the scariest scene ever!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/24/04 A Bryan Saw last night. Met director. Great guy, Great Film 5 stars
9/13/04 Gem Best Meadows film yet 5 stars
9/12/04 Sally Brown A real british film at last. Very touching. 5 stars
9/09/04 Alana I am still thinking about this film three weeks later. 5 stars
8/27/04 dave hunter Blew me away. 5 stars
8/24/04 alisdair Excellent improvisation, intense moments, amazing bad trip scene. A winner! 4 stars
8/20/04 victoria sweeting it's a masterpiece, finest film i've seen in a very very long time 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  12-May-2006
  DVD: 05-Sep-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  12-Oct-2006




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