I know I’ve said before that I’m not keen on British films, but there’s one in particular that, despite being the embodiment of everything I don’t like about the genre, is just too damn good not to like!
I’ve actually been wanting to do a post about it since starting this page, and after watching it again a couple of weeks ago I figured it was high time I did.
Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
If you haven’t seen it, it’s a British crime/drama/thriller starring Paddy Considine (The World’s End) and Toby Kebbell (Kong: Skull Island) among others.
It’s directed by Shane Meadows (This is England) who also co-wrote the story with Considine.
This is what it’s about according to the internet:
“A disaffected soldier returns to his hometown to get even with the thugs who brutalised his mentally-challenged brother years ago.”
I literally can’t speak highly enough of this film! I’ve seen it several times now and it just gets better with every watch.
I first became aware of it around 6 years ago when I bumped into a clip of it on Facebook. I’d just had an operation on my leg so was off work and I decided to give it a watch one afternoon. I was so won over by it that I put it on again that evening so Mrs Screen Room could see what I’d been raving about. To my surprise she enjoyed it too.
If you’ve missed my previous posts about British films and were curious about my opening comment, it’s not that I don’t like them so much as I find a lot of them too gritty and too “real” for my taste. I live in the UK and I guess I like “Hollywood” because it offers escapism. Ironically though this film is dark, gritty, and feels very very real, and oddly enough those are some of the things I love about it. It’s also a revenge thriller which is one of my favourite genres, so I guess to a point that helps too. At the end of the day though it’s just a bloody great film!
If you’re unfamiliar with Paddy Considine he played one of the Andys in Hot Fuzz (“You’ve got a moustache.” “I Know.”) as well as Steven in The World’s End. It’s a real testament to his acting talent to see how vastly different those characters are to the one he plays in Dead Man’s Shoes. His character in this movie just doesn’t give a f#ck, and as a result has absolutely no problem with dealing with the scumbags who have been mistreating his younger brother in the most direct manner you could imagine.
Everyone in the film is brilliant! Even the bad guys that he goes back to exact revenge on seem like real people rather than actors playing their parts. In fact the whole film feels like that and it’s not only one of its best qualities, but it really helps to make the experience that much more effecting.
As well as Paddy Considine who’s just brilliant in this film, Toby Kebbell who plays his younger brother absolutely blows my mind with his performance. I genuinely thought he was a mentally impaired actor the first time I watched it. Imagine my surprise then when I looked him up and found that he’s the same guy who played Koba (the scarred ape in the latest Planet of the Apes trilogy) as well as one of the soldiers in Kong: Skull Island (he also did the motion capture for Kong himself).
I know it seems to be a questionable thing these days for an able minded/bodied actor to play a role that someone with a real physical or mental disability could’ve played, but let’s face it, acting is pretending to be something you’re not, it always has been. In this case Kebbell is so convincing that he totally had me fooled. That in my opinion is great acting!
As someone who’s always avoided confrontation until pushed to their absolute limits I think I like these revenge thrillers because a part of me wishes I could be more direct and call people out for their behaviour. Dead Man’s Shoes is about consequences and holding people who think they’re above the law accountable for their actions, and I love that!
It’s dark, gritty, brutally violent, and is so compelling you simply can’t pull your eyes away from the screen for a moment!
It has brilliantly written characters, superb performances from everyone involved, and dialogue that’s so natural that at times you question whether you’re watching a “film” at all. On top of that it has a really atmospheric score by Aphex Twin and a nicely chosen selection of songs that perfectly match the tone of the film.
If you like a good revenge thriller that takes no prisoners (in every meaning of the phrase) I insist that you watch this film as soon as you possibly can.
Along with Green Book (2018), Whiplash (2014), Richard Jewell (2019), Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and Pans Labyrinth (2006) it’s up there as one of my most recommended movies. And British film or not, it’s just hands down superb!
Seen it? Let me know what you think in the comments.
“You’re f#ckin’ there mate!”