Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shallow Grave [1994]

Sometimes the most interesting stories – are those where you just throw money into an equation between several people – and see what happens. Strangers become instant enemies – enemies become friends – and best of friends will rip each others throats out.

When three friends rent out a spare bedroom to a man who ends up dead with a suitcase full of money under his bed – greed and paranoia drives them apart.

This is kind of like the story of the three bears – you’ve got uptight over protective daddy bear played by Chris Eccleston, you’ve got middle of the road momma bear played by Kerry Fox who’s both practical and not against rolling on the floor and having fun with the immature fun-loving baby bear played by Ewan McGregor. Together their personalities really play off each other well – and even though they may have started off as friends out of necessity to rent an apartment – they have learned to live together like the above described family.

These well defined outer personalities – all lend themselves perfectly to how they end up breaking down to their base personalities once the money is introduced. And just as the analogy of the three bears plays out – you’ve got to determine who’s got it “just right” in order to survive and keep the money.

This is Danny Boyle’s first feature film – at times feels like an audition tape for his follow-up film Trainspotting. Even from the very beginning of his career it’s apparent that Boyle’s got a talented eye for composition, framing, pacing and storytelling – all things Boyle has proven time and time again in his films that he does quite well.

It would only take a jacket and a scarf to imagine Eccleston at this point in his career to see him taking on the role of Dr. Who – and plays his part with the right amount of tension. The first feature-starring role for Ewan McGregor – who shows flashes of greatness – and his heavy personality really steals several scenes. Kerry Fox is quite adept in her role – and is able to hold her own against these two future stars – and keeps you interested in her character though doesn’t really shine.

All three of the characters portrayed by Eccleston, McGregor and Fox are especially cold – and also play on a common theme that Boyle puts into several of his films regarding the often empty spiritual condition of the youth in the 90’s. Making this and some of Boyle’s follow up films very much a film of it’s time – which can make it seem rather dated in my eye – but works well never-the-less.

I don’t really have any complaints about the film other than the story is a tad bit lacking in some areas for my own tastes. I’ve seen the movie several times before – and sometimes it’s all that I can ask for – and sometimes it’s not and like I said sometimes it feels a bit dated. My last viewing I gave it a 4 out of 5 – other nights I would give it a full 5.

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