Alex (Ewan McGregor), David (Christopher Ecclestone) and Juliet (Kerry Fox) are three white collar workers who share the same sense of humour and the same flat. They are so comfortable in each other’s company that they fraternise together beyond the bounds of their residence.
At the opening of the film they are looking for a fourth to join them, and take great delight at mercilessly teasing and torturing those that dare apply to their ad. Eventually though common sense allows them to permit Hugo to occupy the spare room.
Hugo is dark and mysterious, and within a couple of days he is naked and dead.
What should be an easy decision despite the difficult nature of events, becomes an instant conundrum for all three living flatmates when a suitcase chock full of folding currency is found. Reporting the body surely must mean handing over the cash. So what to do…?
…Well by now the title of the film might give a sliver of realisation.
Shallow Grave takes some dramatic and especially black turns over its ninety minutes as the trio all deal with the post windfall wash up differently, especially handling some of the more unpleasant tasks necessary to dispose of ‘evidence’ efficiently. This changes the dynamic between the once fast friends, and brings inquisitive newcomers to the area that include the police and Hugo’s former acquaintances.
The dialogue is mostly fresh, the tone kept nicely black and the plot is tightly wound and clever. If there is a problem it is with the annoying and vindictive natures of the three main characters. If they commenced the film as equally fun loving but a little less dick-ish it might be easier to be more sympathetic later as the repercussions of quick choices come back to remind them that there is no such thing as easy money.
That said, Shallow Grave is a clever and memorable debut directing effort from Danny Boyle, and although it is 20 years (!) old now it is well worth tracking down.
Final Rating – 7.5 / 10. Too good to remain buried.