Dead Man's Shoes

October, 2004, Drama

Directed by:Shane Meadows

Starring:Paddy Considine, Toby Kebbell, and Gary Stretch

This British examination of the high cost of revenge hasn't made it to the States as yet, but London's critics have fallen all over themselves praising its grim depiction of life in the Midlands. Yet despite a cinematography that matches its downbeat theme and a plot device which cleverly permits a visual depiction of the hero's driving compulsion, the film doesn’t merit its accolades.

Paddy Considine, so touching as the struggling father in director Jim Sheridan's In America plays Richard, a special-forces veteran who returns to his home-town seeking retribution from the small group of thugs who victimized his retarded younger brother. With a mixture of icily politeness and terrifying efficiency, he first brutalizes then eliminates his adversaries. Director Shane Meadows, (Once Upon A Time in the Midlands) alternates scenes of Richard's assaults with flashbacks that explain what happened to his sibling, so for the first hour of the movie, the audience gets to wrestle with an interesting moral dilemma as it balances Richard’s violence with that of his targets. But his actions ultimately escalate into simple irrationality and the director provides a denouement which robs Shoes of the moral premise that formed the script’s basic premise, reducing everything to melodrama…and a mediocre one at that.

The verdict? An interesting premise, done in by its resolution--and thoroughly depressing to watch.     

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