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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Film Review: Dead Man's Shoes

"be sure your sins will find you out..."

Dead Man’s Shoes

Dir. Shane Meadows

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

“God will forgive them. He'll forgive them, & allow them into Heaven. I can't live with that.”

Dead Man’s Shoes is a highly accomplished film, a bold, stark, utterly gripping, unsettling & powerful drama, which mixes humour and horror with strong characters and an emotive ‘revenge’ theme. And if that were not cause for celebration enough – it’s a British film!!

Caution though, watch this and you will not easily forget it, so if you’re of nervous or sensitive disposition you might want to think twice...

The story is of two close brothers who return to the northern English hometown they left years before. Richard (an unbelievable performance by Paddy Considine) is strong and purposeful, a man on a mission, an angel of death with a heart of darkness… But all of his cold, hard anger and homicidal hatred comes from the fact that he loves his younger brother Anthony (powerfully portrayed with real feeling by Toby Kebbell). Younger and slightly retarded, hesitant but with a ‘true heart’, he worships everything Richard does…

Vengeance is the order of the day, revenge on a bunch of loser scum drug dealers at whose hands Anthony has suffered whilst Richard has been away in the army. Led by the wannabe hard man Sonny (Gary Stretch who also starred in Alexandra with Kebbell) this lot have it coming and we get to watch as they are terrorised, freaked out, humiliated and murdered one by one…

It’s strong stuff but Dead Man’s Shoes works on many levels and it is shot in such a matter of fact way that it will get under your skin.

As the cool Ducks over at Duck Mafia point out – the film has several strong religious aspects:
“Dead Man’s Shoes is no less about Christ than Mel Gibson’s The Passion. It opens with Richard’s sombre statement of intent, “God will forgive them…” etc and ends with a God-like point of view shot from the clouds accompanied by the sounds of a Church choir. Richard takes on the role of a vengeful God while his mentally challenged brother Anthony assumes the role of Christ.
The most striking connection between Anthony and Christ is made in a late scene in which Sonny’s gang mercilessly tortures Anthony near an abandoned farmhouse. Bringing to mind the suffering of Christ, the scene emphasises the belief that Christ chose, and was not forced, to die for the sins of humanity. There is even a Pontius Pilate figure, who has the power to stop the ordeal but does not.
Another similarity becomes apparent with a key revelation in the film. Although Anthony exhibits an appealing type of simplicity and grace from the beginning, Meadows grants him actual transcendence by the story’s conclusion. The many shots of Richard and Anthony walking through field and forest achieve a level of spirituality.”
And whilst that’s quite a stretch, it is interesting stuff… and the tagline that ‘he’s in all of us’ only reinforces the ‘what would you do?’ question that you can’t help but ask when watching it…

It also made me appreciate just how strong a bond between brothers can be (as an only child I enjoy watching my sons interact and wonder what it would have been like to have brother) – so all in all this is a thinking person’s thriller and I recommend it heartily!!

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

(powerful and compelling)

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