Dead Man's Shoes
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Richard (Paddy Considine) has always protected his simple-minded little brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell). When Richard leaves the rural village where they have grown up to join the army, Anthony is taken in by Sonny (Gary Stretch), a controlling and vicious local drug dealer and his gang of lads. Anthony becomes the gang
Harrowing thriller about a hotwired ex-soldier (co-scripter Paddy Considine from Cinderella Man) who returns to his sleepy Irish village to dole out merciless revenge upon the booze- and drug-sodden hoodlums who abused his mentally handicapped younger brother (the astonishing Toby Kebbel). Director Shane Meadows (Once Upon a Time in the Midlands) doesn't shy away from delivering scenes of gripping suspense and violence, but the end result hews closer to an ambiguous meditation on the nature and effect of vengeance a la Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs than a Death Wish-style grindhouse effort. Taut and thought-provoking, Dead Man's Shoes is a must-see for indie film aficionados with a taste for the grittiest of fare. The DVD includes some rollicking commentary by Meadows, Considine, and producer Mark Herbert; an intriguing and heartfelt featurette on Meadows and his own violent past as a teenage skinhead in 1980s England, from which he drew inspiration for this film; and an alternate (and somewhat less satisfying) final scene. -- Paul Gaita
- Commentary by director Shane Meadows, co-writer/star Paddy Considine, and producer Mark Herbert
- "In Shane's Shoes" featurette
- Deleted scene
- Alternate ending
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The only subtitle option on the disk's language setup is Spanish, but after some experimentation I found good news: the disk has English closed-captioning that can be accessed through your TV's CC feature. Since I was watching the DVD on a BluRay player with a HDMI connection, I had to unplug the HDMI and patch the player into my TV with standard 3-prong AV cables. I activated the TV's closed-captioning and the English titles came up. As is often the case with the CC feature, a few of the subtitles weren't exact translations, but most were, and I was finally able to enjoy the entire story.
The movie itself is a dark psychological thriller that builds steadily to its devastating conclusion. Richard is a veteran who has come home to Matlock in Derbyshire after serving in the Parachute Regiment. He drifts around the edges of town with his mentally challenged younger brother, Anthony, taking up residence in an abandoned farm. Richard starts visiting the haunts and hangouts of the local gang of drug dealers, subjecting them to a campaign of harassment that starts as a series of disconcerting but harmless pranks and soon escalates relentlessly into intimidation and violence as it's revealed, through flashback, that the gang brutalized Anthony while Richard was away in the Army. The violence in Dead Man's Shoes is gruesome, but it's underplayed and not particularly explicit; the movie's real gut-punches come from the realizations of Richard's motivations and the depth of his feelings for what happened to Anthony while he was gone.
Some viewers seemed to be disappointed in Dead Man's Shoes as a slasher flick, which it isn't, and others seemed impatient with its pace, which isn't slam-bang. Richard's revenge involves no big orange explosions and there are no lingering shots of cartoonish blood gushing from open wounds. Some were repelled by the movie's brutality, which is undeniable and for which Richard himself seeks release. Dead Man's Shoes is not for all tastes, but for me at least it was a powerful and haunting examination of the terrible effects of guilt and grief on the wounded soul of its protagonist.
Richard (Paddy Considine) is a paratrooper that is on leave from his service and decides to return to his hometown and clean up a few loose ends. He embarks on a crusade to exact his revenge on the hometown bully's who ruthlessly picked on his younger mentally handicapped brother while he was away. Richard, one by one, targets each of his brother's tormentors and quickly becomes a terrifying angel of vengeance.
Dead Man's Shoes is not a movie that you can simply just watch and not feel some sort of attachment to the story. Almost everyone has either been a victim or has known someone that has been bullied in their life. This is the type of story that grabs you by the throat and forces you to relive those emotions while you feel justice for the tormented. A beautifully written story with top notch acting, Dead Man's Shoes shines as a brilliant film with fistfuls of redeeming values all put together in one wonderful package.
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