Dead Man's Shoes

UK 2004, 90 mins
Director: Shane Meadows

+ Q&A with Shane Meadows and producer Mark Herbert

Contains strong violence and sexual violence.

Nineteen years since its original release, Shane Meadows’ startling fourth feature has lost none of its power. Paddy Considine is compelling as Richard, a haunted ex-soldier who returns to the place he grew up. Disaffected, lost and troubled by the past, he is a powder-keg of untrammelled male rage and an as yet unrealised threat to a group of men whose past is entwined with his.

‘Are you the devil?’ a dope-addled drug dealer asks the avenging angel ex-soldier in Dead Man’s Shoes, the latest genre-straddling experiment from homegrown indie king Shane Meadows. Certainly there is something demonic about the spectre of a killer who torments his victims by making them dance like puppets before methodically dispatching them with cold calculation. The otherworldly nature of the question also hints at the hidden heart of a story in which long buried secrets return from the grave to haunt the guilty. Yet the tone of Dead Man’s Shoes remains resolutely down-to-earth in its blend of grim social realism and edgy rural satire, creating a hybrid of horror, comedy and latter-day Western in its story of a mysterious loner with one foot in the grave who forces a blandly familiar Midlands village to acknowledge a silenced history of abuse.

The crossing of generic boundaries is business as usual for Meadows, whose nominally comedic back catalogue has long harboured dark delights. His last film, Once upon a Time in the Midlands (2002), began life as a melancholy riff on the Western legend of the ‘Man with No Name’ before gradually mutating into a quirky romantic comedy packed with eccentric country-and-western cameos. By contrast, Dead Man’s Shoes was conceived as a farcical romp but slowly festered into something more bloody minded. But whilst Once upon a Time in the Midlands ultimately proved an unsatisfyingly disjointed affair, Dead Man’s Shoes is a terrifically cohesive exercise whose stripped down guerrilla-style production perfectly matches the raw appeal of the story. Apparently unencumbered by the need to satisfy a wide audience, Meadows returns to his roots with a punchy, confrontational and distinctively personal drama that takes a refreshingly unapologetic approach to the taboo subject of revenge.

Taking inspiration from such disreputable 1970s classics as Death Wish, Deliverance and Straw Dogs, Dead Man’s Shoes is notable for the unironic tone of its eye-for-an-eye ethos. Despite the black humour of early scenes, there is little to laugh at in the grisly catalogue of do-it-yourself justice that ensues. On the contrary, Meadows and star/co-writer Paddy Considine seem to take very straight-faced pleasure in the axings, stabbings and dismemberments that constitute the film’s trail of blood, inventively shed with such innocuous domestic objects as a kettle, a toilet and a surprisingly spacious suitcase. Meadows has said ‘I’m not a violent man, but at the end of the day the characters who get killed in Dead Man’s Shoes are based on people that I want to kill.’ The admission chimes with the film’s tone: sympathy for drug dealers is in short supply and guilty audience pleasures are duly rewarded.

This alarming political incorrectness reaps cinematic dividends, lending the drama a cutting edge that undermines any sense of cosy familiarity and keeps us in a state of anxious unease. Considine is particularly adept at navigating the fine line between humour and horror, the soft burr of his voice and inquisitive set of his features giving way to a demeanour bespeaking genuine threat. Dead Man’s Shoes ends on a note of tragic redemption that both accepts the self-destructive futility of vengeance and maintains its mephitic spell; a characteristically deft sleight of hand from its unruly creators.
Mark Kermode, Sight and Sound, October 2004

Director: Shane Meadows
©/Presented by: FilmFour, EMMI
©/Production Company: Warp Films
In association with: Big Arty
Part Funded by: European Regional Development Fund
International Sales: Element X
Executive Producers: Tessa Ross, Peter Carlton, Steve Beckett, Will Clarke
Produced by: Mark Herbert
Co-producer: Louise Meadows
Line Producer: Barry Ryan
Film Four (Business Affairs): Paul Grindey, Harry Dixon, Louise Long
Film Four (Head of Production): Tracey Josephs
Film Four (Production Co-ordinator): Gerardine O’Flynn
East Midlands Media (Executives in Charge of Production): Kate Ogborn, Rebecca Mark-Lawson
Production Accountant: Pat Mee
Production Co-ordinator: Rachel Robey
Locations: Richard Knight
1st Assistant Director: Griffin
2nd Assistant Director: Lisa Butler
3rd Assistant Directors: Daemian Greaves, Steve Watson
Continuity: Louise Knight
Casting Director: Carol Crane
Screenplay: Paddy Considine, Shane Meadows
Additional Writing: Paul Fraser
Director of Photography: Danny Cohen
2nd Unit Director of Photography: Zak Nicholson
Focus Puller: Lucie Seymour
2nd Unit Focus Pullers: Matt Shaw, Nathan Mann
Clapper Loader: Andy Hill
2nd Unit Clapper Loader: Leon Lockley
Gaffer: Mark Clayton
Stills Photographer: Dean Rogers
Special Effects: Life Creations (Tim Berry, Tristan Versluis, Jon Moore, David Bradley)
Editors: Chris Wyatt, Lucas Roche, Celia Haining
Art Director: Adam Tomlinson
2nd Unit Art Director: Gavin Lewis
Storyboard Artist: Anjon Sarkar
Costumes: Theresa Hughes
Make-up: Lizzie Broadley
Digital Film Transfer: Mill
Music Supervisors: Steve Beckett, Stuart Soutar
Sound Recordist: Stephen Haywood
Re-recording Mixers: Nigel Heath, James Feltham
Co-ordinator for Hackenbackers: Faye Stevens, Becky Lomax
Dialogue Editor: Matt Hall
Sound Effects Design: Greg Marshall
ADR Editor: Matt Hall
ADR Recorded at: Spool Films
Spool Films Co-ordinator: Penny Linfield
Foley Editor: Leyton Rooney
Additional Foley: Universal Sound
EPK: Dave Holloway
Stunt Co-ordinator: Rod Woodruff
Yorkshire Dialect Coach: Mike Sherbert
Publicity: emfoundation

Paddy Considine (Richard)
Gary Stretch (Sonny)
Toby Kebbell (Anthony)
Stuart Wolfenden (Herbie)
Neil Bell (Soz)
Paul Sadot (Tuff)
Seamus O’Neill (Big Al)
Paul Hurstfield (Mark)
Jo Hartley (Marie)
Emily Aston (Patti)
George Newton (Gypsy John)
Craig Considine (Craig)
Matthew Considine (Matt)
Andrew Shim (Elvis)
Arthur Meadows, Gill Meadows, Neil Dodd, Ben Dodd, Jordan Dodd, Lauren Dodd, Jenna Winter (mourners)
Pauline Herbert, Mark Herbert, John Farrar, Morris Hemingway, Sandra Hemingway, Darren Hemingway, Wayne Hemingway, Hannah Hemingway (Super 8 footage)

UK 2004©
90 mins

Sat 2 Sep 17:50; Fri 8 Sep 18:20
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Wed 6 Sep 20:50; Sat 9 Sep 20:55
Thu 7 Sep 18:10 (+ intro by season curator Nia Childs); Mon 18 Sep 20:45
Beautiful Thing
Sun 10 Sep 18:30; Fri 22 Sep 20:40
Dead Man’s Shoes + Q&A with Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine
Tue 12 Sep 18:10
Sweet Sixteen
Wed 13 Sep 18:00; Mon 25 Sep 20:40
Blue Story
Thu 14 Sep 18:15; Sat 23 Sep 20:40
My Beautiful Laundrette
Wed 20 Sep 18:10; Thu 28 Sep 20:30
Muscle + Q&A with director Gerard Johnson, actors Craig Fairbrass, Cavan Clerkin and Polly Maberly
Fri 22 Sep 18:00
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Sat 23 Sep 18:20; Mon 2 Oct 20:30
Mona Lisa
Sun 24 Sep 18:20; Fri 29 Sep 20:30
Govan Ghost Story
Mon 25 Sep 18:30
The Football Factory + intro by Danny Dyer
Mon 25 Sep 20:45

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