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Dead Man’s Shoes

July 19, 2015

Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
Director: Shane Meadows
Actors: Paddy Considine, Toby Kebbell, Gary Stretch

Dead-Mans-Shoes-300x195.jpg (300×195)

Synopsis: Richard (Paddy Considine) is a soldier recently returned to a small town in the Peak District. He sets his sights on terrorising a band of petty criminals – implicated in the humiliation of Richard’s ‘simple’ brother, Anthony….

Review: Dead Man’s Shoes feels like an extended short film or promo for striking and provocative (but somewhat shallow) sequences which would need fleshing out on a far more expansive narrative canvas to do justice to the subject matter. What we have is evidently a very competent technical director replicating scenes of very formulaic visual tableaux (the black and white flashbacks, the sentimental Super 8 inserts, long distance shots of forlorn brothers wandering off into a bleakly beautiful Peak District setting – scored to a reflective folk tune), all in the service of a slightly juvenile ‘vigilante’ narrative where the cards are stacked far too neatly in favour of the avenging Richard.

As with other Shane Meadows films, some of the best moments are in the relaxed fringes of his stories. He’s a wonderful director of actors – and here he draws a staggeringly good performance from Paddy Considine in the central role, and the rogue’s gallery of petty criminals that Considine’s character terrorises is a selection of lovely little (mainly comic) turns. Meadows has a great ear for dialogue, and his work comes alive when he taps into the almost gallows sensibility of his bleak Midlands milieu – but in also honouring the photographic potential of the region too. (August 2015)

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