Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dead Man's Shoes

Shane Meadows | 2004 | 90 min | UK

You will most likely know Dead Man's Shoes' co-writer + lead Paddy Considine as the loving father from In America. This isn't quite the same kind of film. No, this film's commitment to family is demonstrated through a series of brutal murders rather than, say, winning stuffed animals. The story is that of Richard, a soldier who returns to his small hometown after a tour in the military with the goal of punishing those who inflicted countless cruelties on his brother in his absence. Considine is practically unrecognizable as that blood-soaked avenging angel + he is the reason why this film is great.

Meadows makes Kitchen Sink-ish genre movies, using conventional set-ups to tackle the disenfranchised citizens of down-and-out communities. Similarly, the story of Dead Man's Shoes is that of a straight forward revenge film, but Meadows again turns his eye towards the downtrodden underclass of Britain + its one of the things that sets this film apart from the pack. Class + a feeling of powerlessness over one's destiny are what inform the tragedies of this story. The victims may be so awful that you root for Considine to overcome them, but they are all familiar figures who suffered violent struggles well before Considine appeared. Despite the suspense + bursts of violence in the film, we are given a lot of breathing room to see the sad state of everyone's lives, victims + victimizers both. The quietude that frames the script combined with Meadows low-key directing style makes for an unusual + unsettling revenge picture.

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