Richard (Paddy Considine) returns home from military service with no intention of living a nice quiet life and settling down. The target of his rage: a low-rent drug gang that did some terrible things to his borderline simple brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell) some time before.
After Richard threatens a drug dealer and later gives him an unsettlingly twitchy apology, the gang of thugs suspect that ol' Anthony's brother might be a few screws short of a tool box, but don't know how to react. Sonny (Gary Stretch), the most sadistic and smartest (and in a group like this, that's not saying much), takes charge as best as he is able, but they are no match for Richard's cool-headed brutality and military training.
This is when things get decidedly more ambiguous. What exactly happened to Anthony? What parts of Richard's viewpoint are unreliable? When he faces the thug who has broken off from the gang and raised a family, Richard grows less and less sure of himself, leading to a shocking conclusion that rivals the majority of thrillers in its freshness and great writing.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that Paddy Considine's performance here is one of the best acting jobs I've seen. He makes Richard thoroughly believable and doesn't stoop to any tough-guy cliches. What Richard lacks in size, he makes up for in calm, calculated violence. His performance is powerful and a testament to lesser-known actors who seem to slip through the cracks all too often.
Toby Kebbell, who gets overlooked all too often is also very good as Anthony, a simple-minded fellow whose naivete proves to be dangerous as he navigates a rough area without his older brother, who he looks up to, to protect him. He is very believable playing a mentally retarded character, and doesn't overplay his hand or make his character a ham-fisted caricature.
The other actors never match up to Considine's ferocious portrayal of a vengeful loner, but they do fine on their own. There's a scene between the reformed drug dealer and his wife that is very powerful and moving, and the thugs do good job as their drug-hazed obliviousness turns to fear.
There is also some humor (mostly derived from the stupidity of the antagonists) and some tender moments between Richard and his brother. "Dead Man's Shoes" proves there is still some smarts left in the thriller genre, and boy do I love it for that. It benefits from a smart script and a blistering performance from Paddy Considine. Watch it, and you will not be wasting your time. I didn't waste mine.
I believe you this is excellent, both Paddy Considine and Toby Kebell are great actors. I'm a bit worried it's too violent for me, as a lot of British thrillers often are. I might give it a shot if I'm feelin' brave though.ReplyDelete
Do you know that Paddy Considine has Asperger's Syndrome. This is interesting to me because I have Asperger's too, and nobody ever pictures people with Asperger's being actors- they picture them being physicists or professors or some other hoity-toity profession. We're not supposed to 'get' people that well.Delete
I really like Considine as Phil in "My Summer of Love." He was my favorite part of that movie. He was also in "Blitz" with one of my other favorite actors, Aidan Gillen. Considine was likable and Gillen was fittingly sleazy, but the movie itself didn't impress me much.
I started to skim this after your excellent opening paragraph. I'm so in for this, I don't even know what to do.ReplyDelete
Must watch now.
I hope you decide to watch this M -- I'd love to read your review.Delete
57% on rotten tomatoes? That's an absolutel disgrace. This is a superb film. I'm a big fan of Shane Meadows' film's and this has to be his finest moment. Like you say, both Considine and Kebbel are excellent here. Glad to hear you're a fan also. ;-)ReplyDelete
Sarah, I'm glad you introduced me to Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine. This is a disturbing but wonderful film. Gorgeous review! Your writing talent really shines here.ReplyDelete
I loved this film! I actually got a copy of this off of eBay back when it came out and I had to get the version from England because it wan't available yet in the US. I had to watch it on my PC so I could get around the regional encoding. It was worth though, Paddy Considine is amazing in this film!ReplyDelete
I've been meaning to watch this for a while. Looks like it'd be well worth it.ReplyDelete