The sunday Cult Film Corner (Brit Grit Season): “Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)”

01 Jul

Ahh, the joys of summer in Iceland. Spent the day pounding the roads, then tried to look cool and dignified, but instead thought sod that and went and cooked a shitload of BBQ and potato salad, along with a huge swathe of music related purchases.

Today life is good. Will resume some nice writing duties tomorrow. But tonight though I’ve got music blaring in my headphones as Mrs Sex Farm and her sister, Madame Artiste scream like demented banshees at the football as Spain proceed to tear a new arsehole into Italy.

But it’s not these continental fools that concerns me. No! it’s is the fine shores of Blighty as it is now time for another episode of the Sunday Cult film corner. And in the latest instalment of our BRIT GRIT season, we go to the Midlands in a hardened tale of murder and revenge from uber cult British director Shane Meadows. Ladies and Gentlemen i give to you, DEAD MAN SHOES.

Made in 2006, it stars Paddy Considine as Richard, a man who returns to his home town in the Midlands after serving time in the army. Camping out in an abandoned farm in country with his mentally disabled brother Anthony, we learn through flashbacks that Anthony has been brutalised at the hands of a gang of local criminals who live in the nearby town. Richard starts the film by swearing revenge on them all.

As the film progresses, we see Richard relentlessly stalk the men who are led by the psychopathic Sonny (played by ex-boxer Gary Stretch). With each move, he raises the stakes from intimidation tactics, to violence, and even worse as Richard becomes the men’s worst nightmare, an angel of vengeance for his brother.

Dead Man’s Shoes is very much a revenge western transplanted to the environment of semi urban Midlands, where small towns like the one in the film have high unemployment and boredom is the name of the game. Meadows perfectly captures the thuggish banality of the gang where the only interesting thnig to do is drink and get off your face, as they take pleasure in tormenting Richard’s brother.

The mood of the film is also superbly set. With a very naturalistic mood in the camera work and lighting dept,  it starts of slowly at first with only the slight hint of menace (from the scene in the snooker club). But the near humorous tone gives way to something a lot darker as the film progresses as we see acts of violence that even the gang in the film are hopeless unprepared to deal with. This is down in no small way to the acting of Considine who exudes a highly controlled level off derangement and inner fury at the people he wants dead. but the acting plaudits should also go to Stretch as the gang leader, with his gimlet eyes and vicious smile.

Dead Man’s Shoes is one of the best movies that Shane Meadows has made and is definitely a great low life thriller. If I were you i would stop watching that soccerball rubbish, open up a can of Stella and enjoy this instead.

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Posted by on July 1, 2012 in Film


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