Revenge is one of the most basic human emotions. People instantly relate to it and understand it, for the most part — as long as it’s motivated by feelings and situations they can sympathize with.
Revenge is also one of the key elements in storytelling. Books, comics, and movies all routinely use revenge as motivation for characters, both good and evil. Lex Luthor is motivated by the need for revenge against Superman and does evil things as a result. Batman is motivated by a need for revenge against criminals because his parents were killed at the hands of one. He does good things as a result.
Good and evil both spring forth from this highly emotional state. It’s up to the writer/creator to decide how it’s applied in the story. Many memorable characters, such as Captain Ahab of Moby Dick by Herman Melville, seen to be wholly made of that emotion.
Dead Man’s Shoes, directed by Shane Meadows, uses revenge as a motive to propel the characters through harsh events. The script was written by Shane Meadows, Paddy Considine, and Paul Fraser. Paddy Considine also stars as the main character, Richard, a young man who has returned from war to avenge his brother, Anthony, played by Tony Kebbell.
The film is shot on location in England’s Midlands. The scenes are beautiful, filled with trees and rolling hills around small towns of old, small buildings and houses. The music is lyrical and haunting.
As it turns out, the viewer is given most of the story at the beginning. Richard and Anthony were close as brothers even though Anthony had mental deficiencies. While Richard was away at war in the military, Anthony fell in with a group of drug users and sellers who took advantage of him.
Upon his return, Richard sets out on a trail of vengeance against the group. He terrorizes them at first, breaking into their homes and marking them while they sleep, letting them know he could have just as easily killed them.