Dead Man’s Shoes is a balls out brutal film. It doesn’t apologize for the horrors that it shows, and that is the point. The vigilante style calls for a fearless hero, and Paddy Considine seems up to the task. The only problem is that sometimes logic is sacrificed in order to make the violent actions seem more insane. What is interesting is the latest trend of using peaceful music in extremely violent films. The Proposition featured beautiful music by
that usually played over a sunset, right before a deadly fight. Dead Man’s Shoes has the same surreal experience peppered in between scenes of violence. Nick Cave
Richard’s brother Anthony is mentally handicapped, which a group of drug dealers and assorted sleazy characters use for their own pleasure and amusement. When Richard finds out that they have been abusing him, he sets out to make things right. As an initial act of revenge, Richard steals and humiliates each of them, almost as if he is giving them advanced warning of what is to come. When asked if it was him, Richard simply admits it. He openly tells them that he will hit each and every one of them unless they can get to him first. He brags that he has them in the palm of his hand so convincingly that it is difficult not to be impressed with his vigilante justice. Richard is an ex-soldier, and he is willing to use his Rambo-like skills to get his revenge.
The quality of the film is very rough. The camera work is all over the place and it is grainy and low quality through the whole film, almost where it seems like a documentary at times. At the same time there are a few areas that work very well. Some of it is just great editing while other parts seem intentional by the director. I suppose that it is possible that the grainy quality is somewhat stylized, such as the black and white scenes that are flashbacks, but these tricks are too old, and now they just seem like lazy storytelling.
Paddy Considine comes into the role with a vengeance, which would make sense considering he wrote the role for himself. Shane Meadows directs all of the rest of the actors into a frenzy, which makes Considine seem even more calm. The only problem is that from the very beginning we know that there will be no happy ending for our jaded hero, so the journey becomes somewhat bittersweet towards the end. Even as revenge is taken, the heart of the film begins to seep away. If the only reason for the character to live in the film is for revenge, what is left when he is all done?