Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
Rich and layered story, brilliantly directed , thoroughly absorbing (no spoilers)
on 14 December 2005
This is an amazing film. From the moment we watch ex-commando Richard and his mentally retarded brother Anthony walking through serene english countryside interspersed with flashbacks to grainy film of their childhood, you care about these characters, and without that, nothing that followed would matter very much. What does follow is a psychogically convincing drama of revenge that avoids any of the usual clichés, and although incredibly dark, is not so violent that it should put anyone off from watching it. The real violence of the story is shown in the flashbacks of the psychological abuse Anthony suffers, and it's painful to watch because Toby Kebbell convincingly portrays Anthony as a true innocent corrupted in a den of doped up wasters. Shane Meadows uses mostly unknown actors in the roles - and I even heard some were not even actors before this film, and yet he is able to make them act in such a naturalistic way that you feel you are watching the story unfold right before your eyes, happening to real people. Meadows uses this skillfuly to avoid allowing you to feel that the characters are cardboard cut-out baddies, instead making some of them seem like aimless losers, and twists the viewers sympathies in both directions at the same time. When you watch the film, you'll realise that this is quite a feat juxtaposed as it is with the flashback sequences.
Paddy Considine is amazing in his role as 'Anthony's brother'. Although very controlled, the flashes of rage that occasionally burst through - and the coldness with which he pursues his mission - are the heart of the film. Ex-boxer Gary Stretch is also brilliant in his role as Sonny, the leader of the gang. The soundrack, which is a mixture of folk songs and cello driven music perfectly complements the visuals, and a particularly nice touch is that in the flashback sequences showing Anthony's time as part of 'the gang', the melancholy cello driven soundtrack is louder than the dialogue, underpinning the overall tragedy of the situation rather than making you focus on any particular moment.
The ending is powerful and relevant in the context of the story, but that's about all I can say.
I am not a fan of violent movies per-se, but this is a rare movie where the violence does not exist for it's own sake - it's an integral part of a powerful story, and very little is really shown anyway. So if like me, a picture of a man with an axe on the cover with words like 'shocking, scary, violent' are still making you unsure if watching this is maybe not your idea of a friday night movie, trust me, this is far from being the one trick pony that the cover suggests. It's a rich and layered story, brilliantly directed and thoroughly absorbing.