Shane Meadows' Dead Man’s Shoes is a film that played at the Toronto Film Festival in 2004, but I didn’t hear about until much later. It began appearing on some of movie lists online and the more I learned about it, the more it sounded like my cup of tea. It took forever to come out on DVD and even then, I never had any luck finding it. Then, a few months back, I was hanging out at dirtyrobot's (of Filmopia) place and happened to glance at his DVD collection – I say ‘happened to glance’ even though that is basically the first thing film buffs do whenever they enter another’s abode – and what do I see staring back at me?
“Holy crap, you have Dead Man’s Shoes! I’ve been looking for this forever.”
“You wanna borrow it?"
“Fuck yeah I do.”
The only thing better than finally tracking down an elusive title is when it actually delivers on all it promises.
This little indie is superb. There are just so many things about it that set it apart from most other films of this ilk. The lovely locales of the English countryside immediately convey that the antagonists aren’t big city criminals, just a bunch of drug dealing fuck ups that have no idea of the shit that they are in. The minimalist nature of the piece really works in its favour. All the acting is extremely naturalistic, namely Paddy Considine (he also co-wrote the screenplay), who emotes a restrained rage that really makes the character unique. He cares about nothing save for executing a calculated plan of intimidation and mayhem. Dead Man’s Shoes is powerful stuff, especially the last act. There are further reasons to praise the film, as well. It’s beautifully shot, with a great narrative style and music is used to full effect. The song used the opening montage, “Vessel In Vain” by Smog, stayed with me a long time after.
If you can find it, this is well worth your time. Dead Man's Shoes is a shining example of modern British cinema.