Top positive review
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a modern masterpiece
on 26 June 2016
"Dead Man's Shoes" is an excellent film - indeed, it's a modern masterpiece. While its story is both engaging and poignant, it's also somewhat straightforward and formulistic ... yet it's the passion - the outright emotion - of the characters that elevates this movie. The tenacity and venomous drive of the protagonist is, literally, awesome. Similarly, the disarray and fear that develops within the ensemble of antagonists is fantastically done. As such, this is a character-driven film - superbly acted and wonderfully directed, with a great soundtrack as a bonus.
This movie tells the story of one man's effects to accomplish vengeance on those who've committed dreadful wrongs. Although the cruelty that's been inflicted wasn't directed at (or experienced by) the lead character, Richard (Paddy Considine), he nonetheless feels it intensely. Enraged by what has happened, Richard - who has returned to his old hometown after having been away for several years, serving in the British armed forces - decides to torment and kill those he deems blameworthy. And the men he targets are low-life scum who peddle drugs - small-town gangsters who bully and abuse others.
These gangsters - who are so used to dominating others - suddenly find themselves being confronted by Richard, who's both fearless and ruthless. For Richard is clearly mentally suffering - possibly post-traumatic effects from combat - and, quite simply, no longer cares about anything other than revenge. He's the pure embodiment of natural justice - with nothing left to live for. And so the hell these gangsters have caused others is now dished out to them - with violent and macabre efficiency.
This film, shot in northern England, depicts life in a sort of neo-Hobbesian way - as nasty, brutish and short. We witness murder, and yet - because of the failures of society to provide 'civilised' justice - we see Richard's actions are righteous. Fortunately, Richard has himself retained a modicum of empathy and forgiveness - which reveals itself in the final moments.
Given that this film was such a low-budget affair, it's amazing how much it offers. I highly recommend it.