Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)

Retribution, revenge, and regret theme Shane Meadows gritty thriller as returning paratrooper Richard torments those who made his brother’s life a misery.

Shane Meadows biggest strength is his ability to create gritty, realistic drama in a way few other filmmakers can match. The forerunner to Meadows’ magnum opus This is England is a tale of retribution, revenge, and regret as a soldier (Paddy Cosidine) returns home to take revenge of the thugs who have tormented and tortured his mentally impaired brother (Toby Keebell) while he has been away.

Shot in just three weeks over the summer of 2003, the film has a very real edge to it, the mark of a Meadows film. The dialogue is at times inaudible, the accents can be strong, the camera shaky, but this is the charm Meadows manages to create within his tales.

The film twists and turns through its ninety minute run, at times making you resist the urge to turn away as Richard (Considine) torments those who made his brothers life hell in barbaric ways. It juxtaposes comedy, with Richard taking his revenge in a gasmask, with the brutality he unleashes on the bullies. The soundtrack tones the film perfectly keeping it fast paced and interesting, while keeping the audience on edge.

It was at this point in 2004 that Considine cemented himself as a staple British actor after making his debut in Meadows’ Room for Romeo Brass. Dead Man’s Shoes allowed Considine to hone his craft by co-scripting with Meadows as well as orchestrating a stunning performance in its lead role. Meadows himself went on to pen and direct the now classic This is England just two years later, taking much of the charm of his early films and creating a richer narrative within the context of Thatcher’s Britain. It is safe to say both writers went from strength to strength after this 2004 release.

If you want to witness British film at its best then this a great place to begin. British directors create a realism and relatability that has become almost impossible to replicate across the pond. Meadows has taken the reigns from his forerunner Ken Loach and cemented himself as the exciting prospect in British film, able to deliver time after time. Dead Man’s Shoes is almost better on reflection after viewing Meadows’ later works.

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