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A great film
urbanstruggle23 November 2000
Danny Boyle seemed like he was destined for directorial greatness before the surprise success of "Trainspotting" got to his head. His first two pictures, however, are wonderful. "Shallow Grave" is one of the best modern thrillers I have seen in a long time.

The story centers around three British roommates who are trying to rent the empty room in their flat out to another person. When they finally do find a man to rent the flat out to, he dies in his sleep, leaving behind a briefcase full of a whole lot of money. What to do?

Much like "Trainspotting" of a few years later, "Shallow Grave" has very dark comical undertones to it. Unlike "Trainspotting" however, it is a much more serious film. Like Sam Raimi's "A Simple Plan" of four years later, it explores a moral dilemma between three friends on what to in a situation when you find a lot of money that does not belong to you. Do you compromise your morals for the money or do you do the right thing? One is never quite sure how the story will turn out and as you approach the ending of the film, you are never quite sure which one of the three friends is more sinister than the next, which makes the twists in the last part of the film such a darkly hilarious and chilling delight.

Films like "Shallow Grave" are exactly what independent filmmaking is all about. It's a smart, sleek and stylish film made on a small budget, driven by a cleaver story and interesting characters. Ewan McGregor and Christopher Eccleston both give great performances in this film. `Shallow Grave' is miles better than any thriller Hollywood has come up with in the last 10-15 years (if not longer). I give it an 8 out of 10.
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Vibrant and suspenseful
samuliff9 July 2005
A great modern thriller containing all the necessary ingredients of a decent suspense story: constantly growing tension, sly humor, and genuinely surprising plot twists. It's kind of like a 90s version of a Hitchcock flick (think "Rope"), and like somebody here wrote, once you start watching it you can't stop.

The plot is deliciously wicked. Just how far are you going to go for money? Will you kill for it? Are you willing to share it? Will you give up your best friends for it? How insane will a large amount of cash drive you? And in the end, and this is the most important question "Shallow Grave" rises, will it make you happy?

If there was any more violence in this movie it would turn disgusting, but Danny Boyle knows how to measure it just right. Though he doesn't quite reach the virtuosity of "Trainspotting" here, his trademarks are all present: the fast pace, the urban background beats, the enthralling camera angles and so forth.

The three leads are all great, but there's no question about who the movie belongs to: Ewan McGregor is energetic, powerful and photogenic in his portrayal of a young journalist. No wonder he became such a star.
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Well-done approach to classic suspense plot.
tommonster3k8 April 2004
Good first feature film from director Danny Boyle and writer John Hodge. A good, solid thriller with a healthy dose of dark humor.

Interesting dynamic among the three principle characters, though their motivations toward each other could have been made more clear.

The age-old plot of ordinary people getting mixed up in an unexpected acquisition of dirty money and finding their worst tendencies coming to light is done with style and clever wit, with a couple of nice twists that I doubt anyone will see coming. (Although, I'm a little hazy on just HOW it ends up that way.)

Boyle is definitely one of the great, stand-out directors of the 90s-and-beyond crowd, in the upper ranks with Tarantino, Fincher, Ritchie, and a few others.

7/10 stars
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A glimpse of the greatness that became Danny Boyle, and a fabulous thriller.
prettyh6 March 2011
I saw this film before "Trainspotting" came out, so I had no clue who this Ewan McGregor fellow was, or what sort of director Danny Boyle would turn out to be. "Shallow Grave" is a great enough film to have sealed the deal for me: I have sought out his work (and have, for the most part, loved it!) ever since.

You've already read vague bits about the plot, I'm sure, and I shan't give away any more than the basics - three roommates and best friends are inseparable until a suitcase full of money, found through some rather unpleasant circumstances (to say the least), causes not only friction and paranoia but also potential for violence, as they each struggle with their own morality over what to do. Do they call the cops and return the cash? Tell no-one what they had to do to keep it, and live the high life? It seems so simple in the beginning, boiled down to a single conversation over a kitchen table, but the complexities of that one decision soon become awfully clear. And as David (Eccleston) says at one point about a camcorder, bought as a new toy by his flatmates, "Yes, you PAID five hundred quid for it, but we don't know what the COST to US will be yet." Eerie foreshadowing, there. And that is where the fun...and fear...all begin.

What follows is a story that manages to ratchet up the tension at a furious pace. The whole film fits into just over 90 minutes, and it is very impressive to see how effectively the entire mood changes as these three roommates begin doubting each other, themselves, their neighbours, the police, and the occasional unfamiliar car parked outside their Edinburgh flat... The fun and hijinx for the trio (and for us, the audience) are brought to a screeching halt, and the rest of the film stays taut, never tipping its hand to let you know what might happen the next time someone comes to their door.

If you've seen and enjoyed Boyle's more recent works ("Millions," "28 Days Later," "Slumdog Millionaire," "127 Hours"...and especially "Trainspotting," as you'll see a LOT of familiar faces who got their start here), go back to this one to see where his true style came to be. It's no surprise at all that he's gone on to Oscar acclaim; he's clearly been building his craft and unique methods for some time. "Shallow Grave" is a fantastic noir-ish thriller, managing to be laugh-out-loud funny in places (the three leads are fabulous, particularly McGregor and Eccleston) and then turning very, very dark on you without warning.

And I must say...the ending alone is worth the ride. ;)
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House Of Straw, Ton Of Bricks
cchase17 October 2005
See, there's these three little piggies (Ewan McGregor, Kerry Fox and Christopher Eccleston) who live together as flatmates in Glasgow. The one thing that ties them together more than the genial contempt they have for one another, is the DOUBLE amount of contempt they have for everyone else. To take in extra rent money, they decide to let a spare room in their place. After having a lot of fun at the expense of many 'unsuitable' candidates, they decide to award the spot to a very dodgy looking character named Hugo, (Keith Allen), who has a shady demeanor and a rather large suitcase.

This situation is ripe for betrayal, deceit, coercion and oh, let's not leave out murder, shall we? It's dynamite with an unlit fuse, just missing a match. And that 'match' is finally struck when the three roommates find a nude Hugo dead the next morning in his room, and that in his mysterious suitcase is more cash than the three of them combined will make in a year.

Anybody hear a sizzling noise in the background? That's nothing. The explosion is coming, and it is a DOOZY! Director Danny Boyle and writer John Hodge certainly know their noir thrillers, and they skilfully weave the strands of this twisted story together like a Hitchcock chamber piece, filtered through the gimlet-eyed gaze of the Coen Brothers. With a Glaswegan accent, of course.

The acting is top notch, especially Ewan in his first major movie role. The realistic outcome of each nerve-wracking situation ratchets up the suspense and the tension without a single false note, as the 'straw' friendships of these three not-so-likable characters goes up in a puff of spontaneous combustion...all for, as the O'Jays put it so aptly, "the love of money."

And speaking of classic songs, a great director knows how to infuse a scene with just the right touch of irony, comedy or even downright horror, such as what Quentin Tarantino did with the confectionery pop standard from Stealer's Wheel, "Stuck In The Middle With You." I could tell from the word 'go' that Danny Boyle would be one artist to watch, just through the way he took a gooey retro classic like Andy Williams' "Happy Heart," and infused it with chillingly fitting gallows humor for GRAVE'S jaw-dropping ending, that will stay with you long after you've seen it...even after the second or third time! No matter how many times I watch it, it still hits me like a ton of...well, you know...

Highly recommended, with great scoring work from artists like Simon Boswell, Leftfield and Tomandandy.
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All the Makings of a Cult Classic
dellascott200430 October 2005
This film opens with three hip, cynical young Scottish professionals, David, Juliet and Alex (Christopher Eccleston, Kerry Fox and Ewan McGregor)who are looking for a fourth to share their spacious flat. That they aren't very nice people is clear in the opening scenes. when they taunt and mock the hapless applicants with insults and absurd questions, it is a foreshadowing of future nastiness and some of the choices they make. Finally an older man who seems to be their match takes the room, then immediately up and dies on them--and leaves a suitcase full of money. Did the guy commit suicide? And if so, why? More than likely the money came from some ill-gotten source, so why not keep it? But first, his corpse, which is, as Alex puts it, starting to "go off and smell" must be dealt with, hence the title. Scotland is such a great setting for a horror thriller, it's a shame more of them aren't set there. These are the people who gave us Burke and Hare after all. Add to that all the stereotypes about Scottish people and money and it's a perfect set-up for this plot. The sexual tension among the three also adds a suspenseful twist. Ewan McGregor was even more heartbreakingly handsome in those days, long before he was a Jedi knight, but in spite of that, he does an amazing job playing a lout.

It may be my imagination, but Danny Boyle seems given to "Clockwork Orange" references here as he was in "Trainspotting" (Watch for the scene at the charity ball with Ewan McGregor on the floor with Fox's foot on his face. There are others.) Nothing wrong with that. And as with "Trainspotting", there are some flights of pure fantasy, though none as protracted as the toilet scene.

Though not heavy handedly, I think that this film, perhaps even more so than "Trainspotting" makes a pointed comment on the spiritual condition(empty) of young people in the nineties. These are very much films of their time--they could not have been made in an earlier time, and not just because of explicit drug and violence scenes.
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Pretty effective thriller, but could have been more
Bogey Man29 May 2002
Shallow Grave is directed by Danny Boyle, the genius behind Trainspotting. Shallow Grave is about three friends, who live in the same apartment and try to study and work normally. They want to find one person to fill the room that is empty in their apartment, and soon they find the right one. However, one day something horrific happens and the friends find something very interesting in the new tenant's room. After this incident, their friendship starts to change and weird murders appear. I won't tell you more about the story as this must be seen without knowing too much about it. I hope others have not spoilt you and disturbed your viewing experience.

This film is about themes of friendship and greed and greed for money especially. Which one is more important, huge amount of money or a true friend? Ewan McGregor's voice at the end of the film tells us everything what the main character learned about life and these things throughout the film. This is pretty mean spirited and too much for others, because there are so many mean characters and some graphic and gory violence in Shallow Grave and everyone will not tolerate that. After all, this is very important film and gives us some difficult questions and something to think about. A human being can easily been seduced and once it has happened, everything the one has kept important may not be that anymore and the person's set of values has changed..

Technically Shallow Grave is very great and effectively scary. There are great camera movements and angles and weird ways to use camera. Music is okay but nothing too special, in my opinion. The atmosphere is pretty disturbing and this should have been enjoyed in the big screen. The real skills of this director are visible more completely in Trainspotting, a masterful drama about the world of drugs, also starring Ewan McGregor. The scenes in forest are especially spooky and as a horror thriller, Shallow Grave is very noteworthy.

There are, unfortunately, couple of scenes or characters' reactions, that I couldn't tolerate and that affects to the rating a little bit. The youngsters act sometimes stupidly and are too irritating. And the other fault in this film is that the clues for the gangsters to find these youngsters are not explained and all seems to happen too easily. But these are not too dangerous considering the great horror and cinematic elements of the film. I was waiting a little too much I think, because I had read many praising reviews about this film but still, I'm definitely not disappointed, even though the film could have been closer to perfection.

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A great little thriller who's pace covers it's weaknesses
bob the moo4 January 2004
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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engrossing as much as off-putting, psychologically interesting and thrilling, well done
MisterWhiplash27 July 2006
Shallow Grave, the debut film from director Danny Boyle (also from his fellow producer and screenwriter from other films he made in the 90s), has a fatalistic edge to it, but where it will really go is anyone's guess. It's practically impossible to identify with these three main characters- Kerry Fox as Juliet, Christopher Eccleston as David, and Ewan McGregor as Alex- as they're all cynical and sarcastic to the bone, rarely sympathetic, and friends through and through. The latter part might be a little more recognizable in such a very easy kind of story for these characters, who after finding their new roommate dead in his room have to 'take care' of the situation. This becomes further complicated, both practically and morally, when a suitcase of money is found from the ex-roomer. This is at the core something of a simple dilemma kind of issue tale that could fit very easily onto a kid's show (minus all the death of course, as finding-money was also used in Boyle's film Millions). But Shallow Grave also happens to have the ingredients for a horror film as well as film-noir, tragedy as much as thriller, with bits of pitch-black comedy thrown in for good measure.

One of the cool, unnerving things about the film as well is how, after a while, you can't really be sure who's really sane or not. But even as it is a story of friends, it is more closer to being Eccleston's movie, as a character who goes through the darkest change out of the three of them. He starts out as the sanest of the uptight middle class three, or at least the most reasonable when the circumstances strike up. But through grisly turns of events, he becomes the most un-balanced of the bunch, and Boyle is able to get with his DP Brian Tufano some really powerful moments visually up in the attic. As further complications go on, it becomes not really a tale of morality but one of keeping a bond that is breaking always. But the psychological turns are made better, and not too circumspect or dumb, by the actors. In truth, some of what the characters decide and then go through is a bit too implausible even for a thematically violent film like this. But it's a fresh showcase for all three actors for their gifts- McGregor's Alex seems like a sociopath through most of the film, and his change doesn't make him more likable but still very intense by the acting. Eccleston has what should be one of the performances of his career as the mild-mannered and then loose-edged flat-mate. And Kerry Fox is good, if a little typical as the lady of the house. Her own role in the film is further complicated by lustful intentions and all that- she could be considered a femme fatale if it were that easy.

And Shallow Grave is, above all else, a very good film at style trumping the substance, which itself isn't that bad as being B-movie fare, to which he would put to best use with Trainspotting. Here I'm reminded of the cinematic freedom and inventiveness taken in such 'pulp' matter by first time filmmakers in the 90s, and even in the story's weakest points (and there are a few in due to logic and the dialog sometimes) it's never boring. There's a cringe/funny kind of scene with Alex and Juliet using some new merchandise for some lewd and f***ed up purposes, and it's filmed in a perfectly amateurish way. And in dealing with the more disturbing subject matter, it helps that Boyle and writer John Hodge only show what is necessary (i.e. some of the 'grave' scenes) so that it doesn't become stale or with that sort of kick needed for the material. By the end, too, as in other noir stories, there is a twist that comes, but it isn't even much expected as the characters have met their fates. But it has the advantage of not being a cop-out either. Shallow Grave is, when it comes down to it, that splendid of things- a directorial calling card that speaks to his skills with actors (more so in casting to a T), mixing comedy and drama, and hip use of camera-work. Nothing really 'deep' or great, but it's a nifty little midnight movie from merry old England. 8.5/10
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Brilliant but brutal
Tommy-520 September 2002
Warning: Spoilers
With all due respect to the reviewers who have commented on the humor in this film, I must strongly disagree. I see absolutely no humor in 1994's Shallow Grave, possibly a slight chuckle occasionally but that is all. This is a very grim and brutal story and if you are a person who is disturbed by this kind of gruesome reality, I would suggest you find another film to view when you are in the mood for a relaxed evening. But, for those of you made of sterner stuff, Shallow Grave is brilliant. Shocking in story line and at times graphic in depiction, it is nevertheless an excellent film and story. Filmed in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland with some nice location shots, it begins with the main characters, (three young adults, two men and a woman), interviewing prospective tenants for the spare bedroom in their apartment. We see early on that these persons are fairly callow, immature people, as they delight in making fun of the prospective roommates who show up to be interviewed. This is interesting because all of them are presented as successful persons in their professions. Juliet, played by Kerry Fox, is an MD, Ewan McGregor is the smart mouthed Alex the newsman and Christopher Eccleston portrays the buttoned down businessman David. It is David who is the most interesting character, as we see very early that he is moody and very intense. We are not surprised as we move into the heart of the story that David is most affected by the events the three friends bring upon themselves. Unknown to the three, the person they chose to let the spare room to was a professional criminal who assisted in a robbery murder. When he is found dead in his room of a drug overdose with a suitcase full of cash, Shallow Grave truly begins. The three make a fateful decision to dispose of the body and keep the money. The decision is made to remove the hands, feet and teeth of the dead man so as to make it difficult to identify the remains should they be discovered. At this point the human aspects of Shallow Grave become interesting and very intense as David drew the long straw, thus assuming the task of mutilating the body for disposal. We see the psychological changes in him happen right before our eyes as he carries out his grim task and it is mesmerizing to watch. He goes over the edge totally when the dead crook's friends show up at the apartment to search for their friend and the money. Juliet and Alex, who had berated the geeky David until now, become fearful of him when he murders the two intruders. From this point on, the friends become more and more separated by suspicion, greed, fear and lack of trust in each other. Double dealing and backstabbing change the last 1/3 of Shallow Grave from nightmarish to intriguing, and it is indeed a film which the viewer will lose him / herself to totally. The ending? Well, I won't give that away. I will just say that the dark side of human weakness and frailty make for a very interesting climax. If films such as Shallow Grave are of interest to you, then by all means do not miss it. If you have seen it before, watch it again, as I have noticed something I had not previously every time I view it. To sum up, Shallow Grave is an underrated masterpiece, it's just not for everybody.
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Decent to the max!
natezoid25 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a helluva decent movie. It's about three roommates that deal with the death of a fourth new arrival as well as his suitcase full of cash! I especially like how in this movie the characters are each likable and dislikable for certain reasons. Alex is funny and charming, but immature and irresponsible. David is creepy and bipolar, but gets done what has to be done. Juliet smart and fun-loving, but slutty and conniving as well. This is kind of a character study.

Too many films about friends betraying each other either have the change from friend to foe way to sudden or have some cheap plot device like "they were against me all along". I think this movie really captures the delicate dimensions of a three-way friendship slowly falling apart at the seams. Each character even makes attempts to help the others or save the bonds they have. In the end, when greed overcomes them, it is still very believable and even a little bit touching in the sense that they've sincerely tried to make everything work out in the most peaceful way possible, but still fail. In the end I felt only completely disgusted by the moral display of one particular friend. The other two left with a shred of decency still intact.

8/10 Good stuff. Almost 9.
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The weed of crime bears bitter fruit.
rmax30482313 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The story is pretty threadbare. Three roommates or flatmates (Eccleston, MacGregor, and Fox) find their fourth roommate or flatmate dead, evidently a suicide. They're pretty nonchalant about the naked dead body in bed. They go through his drawers and his luggage and find thousands of pounds sterling, which gives them ideas about disposing of the body and keeping the cash.

They matter-of-factly saw the body into parts, disposing of the hands and feet in acid, bashing in the face, and bury it in a shallow grave in the kind of densely wooded area where all dead bodies are found, as this one soon enough is.

One of the three conspirators, Eccleston, a creepy guy with glasses to begin with, starts acting -- well, a little twisted. He sequesters himself in the attic and drills holes through the floor so that he can peek down on the other two.

Two business-like goons looking for the missing cash show up and are killed by Eccleston, and disposed of in the same way as their erstwhile roommate or flatmate. The police find their remains as well.

The police investigate. Things get a little more tense. Eccleston takes up with Fox and they are about to leave for Rio together, but it develops that there have been one or two, or maybe three, double crosses concerning the lolly. Everybody winds up dead.

What this film has going for it are a number of things. For one, the performances are uniformly splendid. The principles and subordinates do a fine job. And Kerry Fox is attractive in a non-conventional way, slightly plump, but with magnetic eyelids. MacGregor looks as if he stopped having zits the day before yesterday.

The direction is more than just functional. I think we notice it mainly when the film deals with the two detectives. There is one shot of these two goofy looking characters -- one who looks like Happy of the Seven Dwarfs and the other like a scarecrow -- seated next to one another on a sofa. They are silent. The shot lasts so long that the image itself turns slightly grotesque.

But then these two detectives are really Doozies. Their dialog is almost surreal at times. "Only three people in the flat, not four," says the senior detective to the other, "Write that down, would you? (Long pause) You can use either letters or numbers. (Long pause) Which did you use?" Answer: "Both." It's quite stylishly done, especially given the budget, and worth catching.
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With Hindsight It's The Film That Introduced Boyle To The World
Theo Robertson14 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This was shown on Film4 earlier tonight where the voice over stated " From maverick director Danny Boyle ... " which probably caused a few film critics to fall out of their seats gasping " Maverick ? Maybe there's two Danny Boyle's directing movies ? " . I was speaking to a professional film critic a few weeks ago where I mentioned Danny Boyle as Britain's best director to which the critic replied " Oh is that the same Danny Boyle who frames and shoots every single scene in the same way every film he makes ? " . Boyle you see is a director who stirs up strong feelings . There's no in between with him . He either love his movies or you have a strong dislike for them . I recognise his efforts can be very hit or miss but he's a director who makes films over a wide range of genres . I'll state that we've yet to see the best of him . He might have won a well deserved best director Oscar for SLUMDOG MILLONIARE but his masterwork is just beyond the horizon . Mark my words

SHALLOW GRAVE was released in a wave of hype and critical acclaim . With hindsight it's possibly little deserved . British films in the those days seemed to begin and end with FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL and this movie is the perfect antidote since it's bleak , dark and cost next to nothing t produce . Not quite grunge , not quite Brit pop but certainly a counter attack against the commercial muzak film making of FOUR WEDDINGS and for that we should be thankful

The problem with the screenplay is that the main characters are painfully unlikable . It's summed up in the opening sequence where they humiliate prospective flat mates . Who'd want to share a flat with these arrogant , middle class tossers ? In other words why should an audience want to share 90 minutes of our lives with them either ? There's also an aspect of existentialism from Hodge's screenplay which begins with a voice over from David but it's not very well developed and becomes a straight forward thriller by the end with a not very clever twist

Exitentilism is a favourite theme with Boyle and that's what made 28 DAYS LATER so much more than just a zombie movie . It's easy to see some of Boyle's trademarks in SHALLOW GRAVE . The strange camera angles , the sharp cross cut editing , and the use of music . Fittingly the main benefactor of SHALLOW GRAVE has been Boyle himself . The cast didn't really reach their potential though possibly underservedly McGregor came closest to film stardom whilst neither did screenwriter John Hodge which is something of a shame
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Cold blooded thriller has murderous money scheme go awry...
Doylenf13 October 2006
SHALLOW GRAVE is a mean spirited, cold-blooded Scottish thriller, stylishly directed with three interesting performances from EWAN McGREGOR, KERRY FOX and CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON, as roommates with a deadly secret--a fourth roommate who died in bed with a trunk full of money hidden underneath the bed.

Discovery of the money has the three of them wondering whether to simply report it to the police or share the spoils of a dead man. The temptation to keep the money is too much and they work out a scheme on how to get rid of the body. Telling any more would be giving away what turns into a very gripping tale of suspense with the crime ripping apart their loyalties and their friendship turning deadly. None of the three are likable characters with their shallow, iconoclastic values. It's no great surprise when they turn on each other.

It's full of irony and none of that irony is lost on the viewer who will never look at trusting relationships the same way again.

The performances are all top-notch with some excellent supporting work from the entire cast. It's the kind of film Alfred Hitchcock would have been proud to call his own with a twist at the end.

A dark tale, relieved by bits of humor (mainly from Ewan McGregor, who comes up with some clever lines). Well worth watching, it's disturbing in some of the more graphic scenes of violence, but well worth watching for the final payoff.
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profound "shallow"
lee_eisenberg7 September 2014
In the past twenty years, Danny Boyle has become a noted director. His oeuvre includes "Trainspotting", "Slumdog Millionaire" and "127 Hours". His directorial debut was the black comedy "Shallow Grave". The premise seems routine: some friends find a cache of money near a man who apparently committed suicide and decide to keep it. But it's only after that when the real part of the movie begins. You see, these friends aren't the nicest people to begin with - they're real a**holes to their potential new apartment sharers - but once the episode with the dead body ends, they turn practically psychotic.

Ewan McGregor in his debut here looks almost like a teenager. His character's handsome looks hide a Machiavellian side. He, Kerry Fox and Christopher Eccleston turn in some great performances as the friends, growing more suspicious of each other as the movie progresses. But the bulk of the credit should go to Boyle, who moves everything along at the right pace to a surprising ending. I recommend it.
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Suspenseful, grotesque and funny - a great little British film
MaxBorg891 May 2007
Before getting his big break with Trainspotting, Danny Boyle gained attention with a clever, intriguing dark comedy. That film was Shallow Grave, which can now be seen as a warm-up to Boyle's drug-related masterpiece, having the same sick humor, tense and paranoid mood, and part of the cast and crew (producer Andrew MacDonald, writer John Hodge, actors Ewan McGregor and Peter Mullan).

The movie is set in Edimburgh, where three people share an apartment (or "flat", as they call it in the UK). For some reason, David (Christopher Eccleston), Juliet (Kerry Fox) and Alex (McGregor) suddenly decide to find a fourth flatmate and after discarding several candidates they finally agree on giving novelist Hugo a chance, on the grounds that he is "interesting". Shame this guy dies mysteriously overnight, leaving a suitcase full of money behind. This triggers a conflict between the protagonists, as Alex and Juliet want to keep the money, while David doesn't think it's a good idea. It takes quite some arguing to convince him to hide the cash somewhere in the flat and get rid of the corpse as fast as possible (hence the title). Having done this, David starts to develop a dangerous paranoia, while in the meantime two gangsters are obsessively looking for Hugo and the money.

On a thematic level (the exploration of greed and its effects on people), Shallow Grave is hardly original, yet Boyle manages to compensate this by creating a suitably eerie atmosphere and alternating moments of shock and laughter. This is also due to the great cast, the director and writer's decision to focus solely on the leading trio proving both a weakness and a stroke of genius: the weakness lies in the fact that no back-story is provided, thus giving no information on the exact nature of the bond these people and no explanation to their behavior in some sections of the movie; in addition, all the other characters who show up, particularly the two gangsters, are quite hollow, their presence having only the purpose of moving the events forward, leaving a good actor like Peter Mullan, for example, with no real material to work on (although, in retrospect, that can be forgiven by Boyle's wise decision to give him a larger role in Trainspotting). On the other hand, constantly keeping the eye on the three leads is a brilliant idea, given how satisfying the performances are, especially the contrast between Eccleston's coldness and McGregor's carefree vitality (another hint of things to come), while Fox remains in the middle, willing to have fun but more rational and subtle than her "accomplice". It is the work of these three terrific actors, as well as the short running time and consistent pace, that keep Shallow Grave interesting and smart throughout, with little time to stop and think about minor flaws. And that goes without mentioning the superb conclusion, which I cannot spoil of course. Suffice to say it deserves to be discussed in late-night conversations as much as the epilogues of Se7en and The Usual Suspects (yes, it is that great).

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It's not a story, Alex. It's a corpse
Scarecrow-8831 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Three flatmates offer a room to a dangerous thief who has ran off with a pair of gangsters' loot. When they find this guy(whose name is Hugo, claiming to be a writer)dead from, I'm guessing, overdose, they chop up his body and bury it so they can share the money.

Juliet(Kerry Fox)is a doctor whose uses her feminine whiles to pit "chartered accountant" David(Christopher Eccleston)& newspaper reporter Alex(Ewan McGregor)against each other as greed becomes a seducing emotion overwhelming all three. When Alex and Juliet go on a mild spending spree, David goes berserk, hiding the remainder of the cash up in the attic and hermits himself up there drilling holes in the ceiling so he can watch the other two intently. Soon, the gangsters find their flat, but David has completely turned a bit wacko awaiting them to enter his lair. What will ultimately push these three into complete turmoil is when the police start fishing.

The film gets really grim as David never quite recovers from chopping up and burying Hugo's body(he lost a "drawing of straws"). We see three people plotting against each other until certain violence erupts as paranoia and corruption come to the surface. We see right from the very beginning as these three are interviewing possible candidates for their flat how crude and rude they can be. It doesn't surprise that these supposed friends could harm each other over A LOT of mullah.

I say that if you don't like dark, dark comedies where people turn on each other or change twistingly into a different person then stay away. It's visually exciting thanks to Boyles' impressive camera-work and the writing is a psychologically nasty piece of work. One question that did poke around in my brain was why they just didn't divide the loot amongst themselves and remove any form of angst or aggression.
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Terrible Plot; Terrible Movie
jjr964 April 2013
Spoiler Alert: I can tear the entire plot in half with one half-brained thought.

If you know the jist of the movie, you know three people have a roommate who dies and leaves a suitcase full of money. So they decide to hack him up and bury his body? You're kidding, right? Why would anybody do that? You would just take the suitcase, put it in your room, and then call the police. BAMMMMM!!!!! End of movie! The body would be legally removed, and you would keep the money.

Unfortunately, the movie just gets worse from there. It's the most predictable movie I've ever seen. It's just "Halloween" type music playing while they show some awful slow scenes. Nothing good. Save your time! Don't buy into the hype of people who give it a high rating because of the director; he might have other good films, but this isn't one of them!
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Zero likable characters .......
merklekranz19 January 2010
"Shallow Grave" is a vastly over stylized and vastly shallow movie. The entire film is a "so what?". Who is supposed to care or become involved with three annoying yuppies that steal a suitcase of drug money, leading to unpleasant results? Paranoia eventually prevails, as things spiral out of control. The entire film is well acted, but allegiances between the young doctor, accountant, and reporter, evolve and change, and the audience receives no enjoyment, because none of these characters deserve an ounce of compassion. The conclusion feels rushed, and is both violent and unsatisfying. I recommend skipping this one and re-watch "A Simple Plan", which has a similar theme, and is a far better film. - MERK
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Three smug unlikeable yuppies screw their lives up.Hooray!
ianlouisiana28 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Last things first - "Shallow Grave" does not have a great surprise ending.Anyone who's watched more than about a dozen movies should see it coming a mile off.It is not a masterpiece of British Cinema,it is neither shocking nor is it original either in concept or execution. It is what it is - a routine Britcrime movie with adequate (but no more) performances that would have been a hell of a lot funnier if Guy Ritchie had made it and set in in Battersea. An irritatingly arrogant and self - satisfied trio of young middle-class Scots seeking a flatmate humiliate and mock several applicants before settling on irritating,arrogant and self-satisfied Allen who promptly dies on them leaving behind a suitcase full of money. In plot developments of increasing unlikelihood,Miss Fox and Messrs McEwan and Ecclestone do naughtier and naughtier things until I eventually I glanced at my watch surreptitiously and found that,thankfully,there wasn't very long to go. It is beyond my comprehension how "Shallow Grave"has gained this reputation for being a modern movie great.Perhaps,like Hugh Grant,J.Lo, Brad Pitt and "The Matrix",it's one of those things I just don't "get".
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An interesting film.
cmyklefty31 March 2002
Three roommates looking for another to share their apartment. They find a new roommate, who lives with them. The new person suddenly dies with a suitcase full of cash. The three roommates battle over the cash and can't trust each other. What is a lot of money between friends? If you cannot trust your friends with money, then who can you trust? Shallow Grave is the most interesting thrilling film, I ever saw. It is well worth your time to watch.
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Buried by Shallow Grave
Antares10girl6 October 2004
For a couple of hours I was buried by the movie Shallow Grave. Unable to move from my seat in front of the television. What gripped me from the beginning was the first scene, in which I learned that all was not as it seemed, while I was let in on an exciting secret that something grave was going to happen. The movie quickly progresses to a trio of flat mates, quite involved with each other and living harmoniously. When a new flat mate is introduced, I just knew the movie was about to take me on an adventure. An adventure to a shallow grave. I find movies quite predictable and therefore unsatisfying, but not with this one. Under Danny Boyle's direction this movie made twists and turns that I did not foresee. Up until the end I laughed in horror as the once close knit flat mates became enemies. This was a movie wonderfully written, directed, and acted. Excellent.
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Shallow Movie
Jakealope17 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this in the bargain bin at the grocery store checkout for $3 with Danny's and Ewan;s name on it so I bought it one cold Saturday night. I was amused by the quip from the director about the film "The film was heavily criticized for its seemingly cold characters. When questioned about the criticisms Danny Boyle responded saying that building plausible characters is something that pleases intellectuals, but audiences in general don't invest much as much into the characters in a film." Hmmm, considering that a lot of intellectuals were amused by this film and promoted it, he should show some gratitude rather than the obligatory swipe at them. Supposedly the film is based on the old discredited canard, "(excessive love of) money is the root of all evil". Just naming three monsters of our age: Stalin, Hitler and Ted Bundy, none of them did what they did for the loot and swag. Three superficial roommates go out of their way to find a suitable fourth, by humiliating less than hip potential roommates until they land one who is a drug addict mobster type, good taste, you hipsters. When the new one dies the next day from a drug overdose and they find the bag of money, the clock starts ticking Meanwhile, there are two ruthless killers torturing and killing to find the lost/stolen suitcase of money. So all this money of course starts making them all paranoid selfish and mean, or were they always that way? Eventually the killers find them, and it looks like it's curtains for these callow yuppies. But the accountant one, Dave, is hidden up in the attic so when the thugs go to get the loot, he kills them both. Now here is where the films edges into hip stupidity. The other two flatmates ALex and Juliet, who were beaten and bound by the thugs prior to their demise, might have done something like thank Dave for saving them from a brutal painful death. Then they might have decided how to divide the money up and all left their own little ways. But Dave retires to the attic to guard the loot, and drills holes in the floor to watch his roommates. There is a police inspector on the loose, looking for the killers of the people below, the same thugs, as well as the dead man too. He knows something is afoot but is hardly some moral counterweight to the dead inside yuppie trio. Basically the movie is a prototype for all those hip, violent but smug films that the 90's spawned like good old Tarantino, an exercise in hollow cleverness. Movies should have some sort of soul and uplift when dealing with such a somber theme and corniness is preferable to hipness
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Not Deep Enough
JeSaisQuoi25 August 2003
Fistly, I should mention that I am very hard to satisfy in regard to movies. With that in mind, I have to report that Shallow Grave buried my interests.

The movie is plot-driven rather than character-driven. In itself, this is always a bad thing; however, in order to be plot-driven, the plot should be utterly plausible. Shallow Grave was not. It all hinges on believing in the greed of the main characters, but that greed remains completely unjustified. The ernstwhile chummy flatmates are all too willing to (literally) stab each other in the back for money. I really felt that they would have all been completely satisfied with splitting the money. The transformation of the characters was not vindicated - especially to the degree shown in the movie. I was reminded of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre where this very same transformation is done in a convincing manner.

Here is a question I had about David's paranoia: If he was so paranoid, wouldn't he suggest to move out of the flat?

The twist at the end was frankly not enough to win me over. In fact, it seemed rather silly. I did not really care who got the money or who outsmarted whom. It was all arbitrary. None of it seemed enough to make a movie - or even a short story. It just comes off as shallow hackneyed story about greed all revolving around a very, very simple plot.

Before even seeing other comments here, I thought the title was extremely bad. It's catchy but has little to do with the core of theme - even in a metaphorical sense.
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Weird, but interesting
Ghost of Caesar28 March 2002
"This is one weird, weird movie."

That, in a nutshell, is exactly what I think about this movie, which stars Ewan (as Alex Law), Kerry Fox (Juliet) and Christopher Eccleston (Insane Accountant--I know that's not the character's name but that's how I think of him). They play roommates in a Scotland flat hunting for another roommate who will fit perfectly into their weird little friendship. Right from the start, though their friendship seems casual, you can tell they're strange. They find someone they think will fit, but he drops dead in his sleep soon after, with gobs of money hidden under his bed. The rest of the movie plays out on their dilemma of what to do with the money and how to deal with their roommates, who suddenly seem very greedy...

The acting in this movie is wonderful, yes, but the plotline seems disjointed. It's a black comedy but more of a suspense thriller, really, as you try to figure out what the characters will do next.

It's also a very quiet film using a solemn, creepy score. So little action occured in some scenes that I fast-forwarded on my first viewing without losing any of the plot! I at first felt tempted to turn it off after the first couple of minutes, but I stuck with it and I was happy I did--there were some very funny parts as well as some very creepy parts. I shiver at the thought of having an insane roommate living up in my attic (loft?) like that...and of finding out my friends aren't as much friends as I thought they were.

In the end, while every character has his or her unlikeable and likeable moments, Alex Law is the one we wind up rooting for. In a very funny and very ironic twist which made me love the ending, Alex gets his revenge...I won't reveal how, but it's quite funny.
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