"Dead Man's Shoes" starts as an ordinary revenge flick. Its only zest, as I thought in twenty minutes after the beginning, was that the action takes place in a little suburban English town, and that adds a little coloring to the commonplace theme. And just how great it is when films don't fit your expectations, and I mean when they end up being much deeper and thoughtful than you could ever imagine.
The subject of revenge has a lot of ground beneath it to philosophize and make smart films. But writers and directors don't always push the envelope, limiting themselves with a poor choice of story-lines and developments. Hence we get stupid exploitation flicks (no offence - I love them myself). But if creators of a picture are willing to use their brains at full - we get a chance to see outstanding examples of a very good quality cinema (I'd recall "Se7en" or "Unforgiven"). "Dead Man's Shoes" is absolutely such an example. It's a shame the film is not well known because it really deserves to be.
Richard is coming back from the army to his small town. He's got one thing on his mind - to punish the gang of local small-time drug dealers who bullied and tormented his younger retarded brother. And his vengeance will be severe... That's it, I'll say no more, because closer to the end the movie turns out to be not exactly what you expected it to be. It's thoughtful and extremely powerful, it has twists, it's an exploration of a man's madness, of his slow descent into insanity, it's about hangman and victim and about how difficult is sometimes to tell the difference. It raises serious questions and it will make you ponder. I was utterly surprised - what started as a banal vengeance movie then turned into something vicious, grave and not at all light-hearted. The acting was just compelling. Paddy Considine ("In America", "Cinderella Man") created a very truthful and unforgettable character, Toby Kebbel, whom I haven't seen before, was just amazing as mentally-challenged Anthony, and as a thug leader we can see Gary Stretch whose face you'll never forget if you've seen him once.
I haven't heard about director Shane Meadows before, but now I'm definately going to trace his career, for "Dead Man's Shoes" is not just one of the best British films I've seen, but it's one of the best films I've generally seen.
Try to catch this film, I'm sure you won't regret it.