Shallow Grave

Shallow Grave

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Winning the lottery is one thing, finding a suitcase stuffed with money quite another. Conscience, morality and the concept of honour is invoked. The next question is: "How much money?"

An accountant (Christopher Eccleston), a journalist (Ewan McGregor) and a junior doctor (Kerry Fox) share a spacious flat in Edinburgh. They are completely different in character, which helps to overcome the petty irritations of shared lives.

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After extensive interviews, during which the cruelty of their humour is exposed, they choose another lodger for the fourth room. He is English, older and not an obvious soul surfer. The hope is he'll shut up, stay out of sight and pay in advance. He does more. He dies, leaving a quarter of a million in unmarked notes under the bed, which, by implication, is almost certainly drug money. They decide not to let bad money go for good and so chop up his body and bury the bits.

The film could have been in the crooks-as-cretins comedy style, imortalised by Ealing Studios, but is so much darker and closer to the bone. John Hodge has written an entertainment, disguised as a thriller, that unpeels the skin of a criminal act to reveal paranoia, greed, suspicion and fear.

Danny Boyle directs with the right balance of tension and wit, never forgetting that violence begets violence as one thing leads to another. Eccleston, McGregor and Fox are perfectly matched and quite wonderful. Only at the end does cleverness outsmart itself, creating a note of unintentional absurdity.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Shallow Grave packshot
Thriller showing what happens when three flatmates find and keep a suitcase of money.
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Director: Danny Boyle

Writer: John Hodge

Starring: Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccleston, Ewan McGregor, Ken Stott, Keith Allen, Colin McCredie, Victoria Nairn, Gary Lewis, Jean Marie Coffey, Peter Mullan, Leonard O'Malley

Year: 1994

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

Festivals:

EIFF 2009

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