Film Review: Shallow Grave

I have always struggled slightly with movies brought to life by Danny Boyle. I have always enjoyed the stories, always found his narrative style, the way he looks at a subject interesting and engaging but I have always had an issue with his use of colour. The palette with which he paints his creations.

Films like 127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire and Sunshine all felt overly glossy: too bright, shiny and colourful. Here were serious stories that for me where let down by a world that looked too coloured by contrast and extremes. And yet Trainspotting and 28 Days Later brought a gritty, dark roughness to their stories that took everything to the other end of the spectrum. I just always feel that Danny Boyle while, instantly recognisable in style, has this flaw, this lack of balance, that flows through his work.

Danny Boyle - Shallow Grave

Not realising that Shallow Grave was directed by Boyle saved me slightly though because, had I known I would have been less drawn to it. Although it was only its cast: Christopher Eccleston, Ewan McGregor and Kerry Fox that aroused any intrigue. I had actually struggled to watch the trailer, always giving up about half way through, unsure and uneasy as to the merits of the film it was presenting, and to be totally honest, the only reason I watched it was because, it was cheap to rent and once again I needed a short film to waste away another boring evening at home.

This last minute “it’ll do” approach, meant that I really didn’t have a clue what to expect, and so I was able to go into the film with a clear mind and no preconceived ideas or expectations. And that is probably a good thing because the film I found was stupid, simplistic and strange. It’s plot is just too far fetched and under investigated to warrant even a moments acceptance; but to be honest, I don’t think that’s a bad thing because the main characters initially presented were to me so unlikeable that I was glad their “stories” are never given more than a quick glance.

Christopher Eccleston, Ewan McGregor & Kerry Fox - Shallow Grave

While the characters are immature, credit must be given to the main cast playing them because, while bringing to life 3 totally unique characters that don’t feel like they could or would co-exist and with which you wouldn’t want to spend more than a few seconds if they really did exist in real life, they do so with individual brilliance. They are performances that will never be remembered as ground breaking but they are the perfect fit for this film. The problem is though, that fit doesn’t add up to a film worth watching.

Shallow Grave never bothers to answer any questions it’s plot bring up, but you can happily ignore that because firstly it doesn’t really create enough to warrant any form of Q&A session and secondly what basic questions it does create – like why the police don’t notice hundreds of holes drilled in the ceiling? – are so stupid you really don’t care enough about them to want the search for answers. The longer this film goes on, the more the plot attempts to twist and turn and the more it just becomes sillier and sillier. I think the problem is that Shallow Graves attempts to create real characters in a real world and then unfolds a series of events around them that never would happen, or befit the realism of the world in which they occur.

Christopher Eccleston - Shallow Grave

All is not lost though, as the one area this film does excel slightly in is mental torture and distrust that is born from the actions of our lead characters. As the film progresses and you spend less and less time concentrating on the plot and more and more time looking into the painful eyes of Christopher Eccleston, his performance alone, will start to get under your skin and salvage something for the film.

Sadly though, it’s not enough to save the day, and so, once again I sit here having added another Danny Boyle film to the collection I’ve seen, and once again I’m left not as entertained as I should have been and wondering what part of the fuss about him I am missing?

4 out of 10 stars (4 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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