Film Reviews, Short Review

Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)

3.5/4

Playing off British kitchen-sink social realism with pulp and genre elements has become an increasingly common trend in contemporary British cinema: Ben Wheatley’s Down Terrace (2009) mashed Mike Leigh-style character drama with a gangster flick, whilst Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin (2013) turned Glasgow into the lair of an alien temptress. Badly done, this leads to Danny Dyer running around pretending he’s well ‘ard because his character is from a council estate. At its best, it can lead to work like Shane Meadows’ and Paddy Considine’s Dead Man’s Shoes. Written by both, directed by the former and starring the latter, the film deals with ex-soldier Richard (Considine) returning to his nowheresville hometown to take revenge on the low-level gang that bullied his younger brother. Playing off its realist milieu with moments of absurdist comedy—the criminal gang are amusingly incompetent and drive about in a bright green Citroen CV—and ever-increasingly terrifying slasher elements—Richard becomes a pure monster in his thirst for revenge—Dead Man’s Shoes emerges as an excellent thriller. Psychologically it may be quite simplistic, but in Considine’s ice-cold performance and Meadows’ bare-bones filming style, there emerges a film of visceral, macabre power.

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