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Film DVD

Dead Mans Shoes (2004)
Director: Shane Meadows/writers; Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine
Carly Mclain

Bullying, Violence and Revenge are the three main aspects of British culture which Shane Meadows carefully combines in a disturbingly naturalistic way.
British director and writer, Shane Meadows, has once again proved his talent within the contemporary film world. Following on from small hits such as, A Room for Romeo Brass (1999) and Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, Meadow’s has cast more light onto the underworld of northern life. His portrayal of grime and violence within northern society is ever more present in his latest film

His films often portray the gritty, honest and in this case disturbing lives of the British culture and class. Dead Mans Shoes is one of the most, gripping and powerful films I have seen in a long time, and tackles with deep emotion the consequences of intense mental torment and physical bullying.

The film begins by showing the local gangs befriending the boy, they begin to use him as their drug deliverer and eventually he earns their respect, but respect turns to torment, and we see shots of the boy being forced to have sex with a girl, an experience which he cannot comprehend and understand, but to the amusement of the gang.

The drug scenes are some of the most realistic I have ever seen, which adds to the authenticity and relevance of today’s drug scene and culture.Throughout the first scenes he is subjected to the most cruel and vile forms of bullying, and it was hard to carry on watching the film in all honesty. You start to realise that this cannot be the end for him, revenge is waiting nearby, and with catastrophic consequences.

To the disgust and horror of his older brother, he returns having left the Army, filled with immense revenge and hatred. He goes back to the village to get his revenge on the gang that preyed on his brother, singling them out, one by one. The actor who plays his older brother, Paddy Considine, who is a regular in Meadow’s films, portrays a controlled violent man who carefully plans acts of revenge, carrying them out simultaneously, but with hidden warnings painted in the victims blood at each murder scene.

The last act of revenge is the most thought provoking of them all, a cocktail of drugs and haluciagenics take the last leading member of the gang on a ‘Trip’ he will never forget!

The soundtrack cleverly takes us through each scene, and just like most of his films, the soundtrack has been carefully considered, wonderful songs used with impeccable timing create a distinct mood and atmosphere. Throughout the film there are constant flashbacks and reminders of some of the most disturbing acts of mental and physical abuse, some scenes are extremely difficult to come to terms with but this is what I like about the film, it is powerful and is very real. It makes you think deep into the heart of the main characters.

It is a very, very dark film indeed but Meadows has a knack of combining sadness and humour, to ensure his work is never too dull or depressing.

The relationship between the older brother and the gang is distant, but is cleverly built up to a climax towards the end. The two main characters performances are harrowingly realistic and convincing. The story also brings out a deep dark side to the meaning of the word ‘Bullying’ and enables us to take a look at the horrific consequences of torment. The main character that plays the eldest of the brothers, Paddy Considine, who has also featured in previous Shane Meadows films, won an British Independent Academy Award for best actor and it has been hailed as Meadow’s finest work to date.

In reading a recent article on him, it was evident that Shane Meadows uses his films to channel some of the guilt he feels now, having being part of a gang in his early youth. His films may also be a portrait of his own background and experiences but they do show us an aspect of our society which is not often portrayed in such detail. It is a truly British film with a perfectly organised British soundtrack, disturbing, uncompromising and utterly gripping.
The message is very clear in this film, ‘Revenge is Sweet’ and disturbing!

© Carly Mclain Jan 2007
misshoney780 at

Carly is about to graduate from the University of Portsmouth Creative Arts Programme

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