The new flatmate of three preexisting roommates turns up mysteriously dead but in possession of a large sum of money. When the roommates decide to keep it for themselves, their action sets in motion a destructive chain of events that spiral out of control.Written by
The film was the most commercially successful British film of 1995. See more »
The film is set in Edinburgh and Alex works on North Bridge, presumably for the Evening News newspaper. However, when the first body is found in the woods Alex arrives home with an armful of the copies of the Evening Times, Glasgow's evening newspaper (the movie was partly shot in Glasgow). See more »
A great little thriller who's pace covers it's weaknesses
Alex, David and Juliet share a flat together and are looking for a new flat mate to help fill the flat out. They see various applicants who don't fit until they meet the mysterious Hugo who is `interesting' and takes the room. Almost a week goes by and he doesn't come out of his room once, so they break down Hugo's door to find him dead with a suitcase full of money. To keep the money, they agree to destroy Hugo's body and draw straws to see who does the cutting. David ends up doing the deed but it affects him badly and he becomes increasingly erratic and paranoid. Meanwhile two criminals are dredging the underworld looking for the money.
Any film that can pose a moral question that stays with the audience is off to a good start and needs to build on it. That is the case here with the `would you keep the money' question - the answer being `yes' in terms of the characters here. The plot then sees the greed do what greed do best - feed paranoia and divisions between the characters. It's a theme that has been done before but is still well done here. The plot has weaknesses in logic and flow - David's paranoia doesn't totally go the way that seems most likely, rather the way that the film requires. Also the film doesn't build good characters. However what it does do well is turn up tension and drama very well - as the net closes and the characters start to turn on each other.
This is where the comparatively short running time helps - it keeps the whole thing from being onscreen too long to be analysed to death while you are watching it. I didn't question the weaknesses because I was caught up in the story. It has a good pace on it although it can't keep up the speed it set with it's stylish opening credits (which have been impersonated so often since). The final act is a fitting denouncement and, like I said, even if some of it doesn't totally scan the film moves along fast enough to cover it.
Despite the lack of really developed characters, the cast do really good jobs on the whole. McGregor is great - this and Trainspotting show how great it can be, just makes it harder to see him looking miserable in the Star Wars films. Fox is also very good, although she is a lot subtler than McGregor. However it is Eccleston who steals the film, even if he is required to go further than he should have in his downward spiral; contrast his character at the start and the end of the film, he did very well to gradually go from one to the other convincingly. The support cast is made up of familiar faces who don't really do that much - McCredie, Stott, Allen and Mullan.
Overall this is not without it's flaws but it works as a tight little moral thriller that is really enjoyable while watching it. And the ending will have you in the pub or on the message boards talking about it (in a good way).
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