D is for Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)

Richard (Paddy Considine), a soldier, returns to his small hometown to get revenge on the small-time drug dealers and thugs who tormented his mentally challenged brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell) while he was away.

Dead Man’s Shoes is one of those DVDs that has been sitting on my shelves for years. Honestly, I could have had this film for close to ten years without watching it. Now I finally have and boy was it an intense but great viewing experience that I don’t think I’ll want to repeat anytime soon.

Paddy Considine is just fantastic. The fact he’s nearly always calm and measured when talking to people means he’s unsettling and threatening but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is exactly about him that makes you feel this way. He has all this bottled up rage, just simmering underneath the surface and the moment when you can see the rage in his eyes you know someone is about to suffer.

Toby Kebbell also does a great job portraying Anthony who is a bit simple, naïve and trusting. It’s hard for actors and scripts to portray this kind of role well and realistically, without becoming an insensitive cliché but Kebbell manages it.

What really pulled me in was the dialogue. The script is great as all the dialogue between the gang members especially feels natural and conversational and the actors’ performances are naturalistic too. Perhaps I shouldn’t be too surprised by that as it’s a Shane Meadows film and he is a director who can get natural and engaging performances from his casts. You definitely don’t feel sorry for the gang members as Richard gives them a taste of their own medicine but it’s easy to feel caught up in their desperate bid to survive even when everything is falling apart around them.

While it’s clear they are horrible people, Dead Man’s Shoes treads a fine line to begin with as Richard’s brand of justice almost seems disproportionate to what we see happened to Anthony in black and white flashbacks. But as his quest for revenge continues, we see more and more of what Anthony went through is revealed you start to wonder if there’s a limit to the violence Richard is willing to dish out.

Dead Man’s Shoes is brutal and intense and a very well-made film. The cast is brilliant and script that feels real and honest about how strong a brother’s love can be and Considine’s powerful performance really does anchor the whole thing together. 5/5.

3 comments

  1. It’s such a good movie – and I really thought Toby Kebbell would have a outstanding career with this and a few others that came out in the next few years – but somehow, he sorta seemed to fall inbetween the cracks. As an ex-talent manager, all I could say at one point was he needed new representation! ha! But thanks for reminding me how good this film was and great review here!

    1. Thank you!
      Yeah, I think the first thing I saw him in was RockNRolla (which I love) and I always enjoy seeing him pop up in other films but like you thought he’d have a more prominent career than he’s had.

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