By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) – For reasons unbeknownst to me, I’ve recently had the compulsion to fill in all of the gaps in Danny Boyle’s filmography I haven’t seen. While Boyle had several TV credits to his name beforehand, this is where his feature film career started (along with frequent screenwriting collaborator John Hodge and a fresh face you might recognize.)
Yes, Ewan McGregor would make a pretty woman
Shallow Grave is about a trio of irreverent, mildly dickish roommates on the hunt for a fourth. When a suave, mysterious stranger wanders in, they think they’ve found him. Weeks later, when the smell from his room starts to get unbearable, they find out he’s been hiding some secrets, like a suitcase full of money-level of secrets. A trip to the hardware store, a shallow grave, and an abandoned quarry later, and the three friends are newly rich. Of course, disposing of a human being can’t be as easy as all that, can it?
A Toast It doesn’t take long fro the Danny Boyle who directed Trainspotting and 127 Hours to manifest himself. The restless camera, the love of raconteur leading men, the obsession with off-the-wall framing and packing as many inventive editing techniques as possible into his allotted 90 minutes… that Danny Boyle is not hard to find. Just to see the seeds of an illustrious career being sown is reason enough to see Shallow Grave. The film also boasts three excellent lead performances. Ewan McGregor is the fast-talking and entirely amoral ringleader of the bunch who wants nothing more than to be constantly amused, regardless of the consequences. It’s a star-making turn, and shows the cocky side of McGregor that I hope to see again sometime soon. Particularly if you’re a Brit, you’ll probably recognize Christopher Eccleston from the seminal TV programme he figured prominently in for one season.
Of course, I’m referring to Heroes
Yes, the Doctor himself plays the moral center of the group, as well as the one of them that undergoes the biggest change. Described early on as “boring” by his own boss, by the end he’s an unhinged, unpredictable Terminator on the loose, and Eccleston plays each stage with aplomb. Kerry Fox plays the female part of the triumvirate, and is the only one of the three actors not to go on to fame. That’s a shame, as she’s every bit their equal playing a character that teeters in between the other two’s yin and yang. In the end, though, she must choose for herself, and what a bloody, bugnuts finale it is, culminating in a wicked twist that makes up for some preceding unevenness. Beer Two About that unevenness. Not all of the things Boyle throws at the wall stick, and little details like a creepy Cabbage Patch-y baby doll come off as trying too hard.
He’s kinda got a thing for nightmarish babies
If you reach orgasm with those eyes boring into your soul, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din
These three make their fateful decision with a minimum of deliberation, then all start flaking out almost immediately after that. There’s no natural progression. Eccleston’s character in particular seesaws between crazy and sane so quickly it seems like Boyle was yelling stage directions in the background. “Insane! Now you’re normal! Insane! Normal! Now you’re a llama! Normal again!” Verdict Danny Boyle’s first film is about as raw as you’d expect from a first-timer, but it’s a sharp little thriller with plenty of hints at the great director he’d become. Drinking Game Take a Drink: every time Cameron shows up Take a Drink: for every prospective flatmate Take a Drink: whenever Ewan McGregor does something flaky Take a Drink: whenever Christopher Eccleston does something flakier Do a Shot: well, hi there, surprising nudity