Compared to the exercise in sadism that most have made it out to be, "Dead Man's Shoes" turns out to be not all that bad. I of course mean that strictly speaking of the content. If I were speaking of the film, then I'd say that it's not bad at all. In fact, it's pretty damn awesome. There is in fact a violent side to "Dead Man's Shoes" as well as a bittersweet/intense emotional one; but if you can get past the content enough to enjoy it, then you're just like me, friend. This is nothing compared to the kind of art-house stuff that I typically enjoy watching; but then again it's way outside of the main-stream. This film is not tame; and it certainly isn't pleasant. But what does that make it? Unpleasant? No, I don't think so. The film is entertaining in that bleak sort of way. It's not for everyone, but please don't let critics fool you; this is a whole lot more emotionally involving than most every-day potboilers. Yeah, "Dead Man's Shoes" isn't a complete knock-out. But it's impressive in creating sentimentality from violence; and none of the content really comes without a meaning. Therefore, it's not a slasher flick, and it's not torture porn either. Hell, it's not even a horror film. The violence in the film is meant to be realistic and emotional rather than for pleasure. I think most people get the wrong idea when they watch it and instantly avoid it and/or push it to the side, that is if they actually ended up watching the thing. I can't say that the faint of heart will want to be watching this film, but if you're like me and you've seen much worse, then it's nothing but a punch in the chest. And a weak one too; not in quality but in physical power. I do recommend that you watch "Dead Man's Shoes", but you have been warned by me personally that you may not like it. Remember that. And who knows; maybe you COULD sit through the thing with ease yet you still couldn't dig it. I can understand that, since this is one of those films which I probably like more than I should. But I'm sure that I'm not the only one out there who appreciates the sentimental tones of the film, aside from the violent ones. This is a very well-made production; and its indie movie heaven. Plus, I love Paddy Considine. So it was kind of hard for me to resist this piece of work. But for many, he won't be enough to make this movie watchable. Again, you've been warned. But I liked it.
Richard returns home to find out that his mentally deficient brother has been tortured (and killed) by a gang of cruel and ruthless goons. They made his brother commit unspeakably odd acts; and Richard wants to exact revenge in the most violent ways possible. He walks to the town with only himself and a hallucination of his brother to keep him company, and when he finally arrives, he decides to start the killing right away. The entire plot essentially revolves around Richard getting his revenge; thus the film is short, sweet, and to the point. I like that; I like how this film had no time for filler. Every moment seemed to count. But the thing I loved the most about "Dead Man's Shoes" was how it had twists and it had tension; yet in never abused any moments containing either. It never wanted the twists to be twists. It never wanted to make us feel tense. But yet; the film is know for its violence, which is never as extreme as people led me to believe it was. "Dead Man's Shoes" will, for many, borders on being a slasher flick, a horror film, a drama, and a sentimental tale of sorrow all woven into one big, fat film. It's a grim movie, no doubt, but in an atmospheric sense. If you find it possible to look past the violence that it shown on camera, then you'll find a rare tale of sentimentality and sadness buried beneath this little treasure. There was something endearing about the film that I can't quite put my finger on, but it's good to see that through the ordeal that you may suffer whilst watching this film, there's at least some reward. I find the film touching; and I was never looking at the film for its violence. I think it wants to have an emotional side, and it succeeds by all means. It's not going to reach most people's hearts so easily, but once you let out your inner sad-self, then there's a tragic tale of loss always at play here. Definitely unappealing to most, but at this rate I just don't care any more.
Paddy Considine is a great actor, and this time, he's in a great film. Considine has had better films than this one for sure, but this is still one of his most haunting performances to date; perhaps the ONLY haunting performance that he (Considine) has ever delivered. Richard, Considine's character, is a vengeful but human persona. It's entertaining to watch Considine in such a serious and intoxicating role. There's a lot I loved about his performance; one of which includes his raw intensity. Considine is true to his role; and there's plenty that I want to see out of him later on. This is almost his movie, that is, if it hadn't had some more worthy inhabitants. The mentally deficient brother of Richard is played by the incredibly convincing Toby Kebbell. Seldom have I seen a mentally deficient individual played by such a believable human being. In his role, Kebbell is not pretending; he's the real thing. That's what I loved about him.
"Dead Man's Shoes" is a ruthless and often times violent film, helmed by Shane Meadows, who I will for now assume, is an equally as ruthless film director. Meadows fits a lot of stuff into nigh an hour and a half. He embeds themes about violence, vengeance, and the human heart. On the outside, I believe his film is merely a revenge tale. On the inside, it's a complex human drama where the only one really struggling is the protagonist who in this case, it a tough protagonist to like. Richard kills; but he is not a killer. Vengeance is provoked typically, whilst the actions committed by the gang were not accompanied by reason. They tortured Richard's brother for fun. I would have wanted to get back at the lot if it were me. It's so very simple to look at a film like this and say, "Oh, wow. That was very shocking and violent." I look at films like these with more respect, and I try to sit in the director's chair for a change. When I did this, I found myself liking "Dead Man's Shoes". Why criticize a film for being violent when everything shown has a purpose? Nothing is unnecessary, and "Dead Man's Shoes" is, I assure you, not as graphic as people say. The film focuses more on substance than it does style, and I suppose I haven't talked nigh as much as I would have wanted to about the "substance"; not yet at least. For starters, the film is so grim that it almost feels post-apocalyptic. Perhaps it is symbolic of Richard's potential demise; or maybe just his road to self-destruction. This makes "Dead Man's Shoes" all-the-more a sad, and often times touching drama. And yes, it is a drama; not a horror film. People see blood and they think it automatically makes something frightening, but "Dead Man's Shoes" is a film that probably doesn't want to be classified as neither a horror film nor a thriller. There were some psychological aspects to the film, but never do they accumulate to "horror". Lastly, half of the great atmosphere for this film is generated through the wonderful cinematography. The film looks and feels haunting; which to me, is all the more reason to see it. I liked watching this film, and I thought it was powerful despite how divisive it is. But I have my own opinions, and so does Shane Meadows. That is why his film works so well.
"Dead Man's Shoes", which was written by the starring man Considine, is a thoroughly engaging and visually accomplished human drama. It's more violent than most films, but not in a particularly shocking way. The film does not exist to shock and disgust; it wants to provoke and make us think about why the character does all this. We need to consider what sort of anger we would let out if our brother would have been lead to his own suicide through torture and his own mental confusion. I would want to cook the fools that did it, but that's just me. Believe me; there's nothing to be ashamed of if you liked this film. You are not worshipping violence. I do NOT worship violence, as you probably know. But seldom am I so annoyed by it that I have to attack a film for having it. This is a film that aims to be realistic, and in many ways it is. However, it will not appeal to everyone. Perhaps this is not because of the violence; but because of the emotions. Some won't feel the message or give it enough time to sink in. Most films get to the point easier than this one does, and that's precisely the problem. But to hell with appeal, I say. As long as your film is good, at least in my eyes, than it deserves to be seen. I won't say that you definitely need to check this film out, but it's a good watch if you're looking for a nice shift from other run-of-the-mill revenge flicks. This is not run-of-the-mill. And it's not forgettable, horrific, or generic either. It's actually quite crafty. But then again; that's just me being me. I typically try to like films that take a daring step into the darkness of humanity, and this film fits the bill. You could even go as far as to call it art; if only for its emotional resonance. But there's also some damn good story-telling, acting, and characterization that's going on here, and for that, I'm willing to really enjoy this film. Luckily for me, I kind of loved it. One of 2004/2006's best? Who knows? But it's one of the better films of the year(s) for sure. If you can sit through the film, then it's worth checking out. If not, then it's not one to remember by name. Just let it pass if that's the case, since it's the kind of film that I won't tell you to see, but by all means I like too much to tell you NOT to see. None the less, I think its good stuff. It's just that not everyone will; and it's always good to give different people different perspectives to work with, right? Yes, indeed.
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About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall (ryguy4738)
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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