“Shallow Grave” Review ✦✦✦✦✧

21 March, 2017

Year of Release: 1994
Danny Boyle
John Hodge
Director of Photography: 
Brian Tufano
Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston, Kerry Fox

Synopsis: Three flatmates with a dark sense of humour discover the highs and lows of instant wealth after a new tenant in their apartment dies from an overdose alongside a briefcase full of cash.

Shallow Grave Review:

A dynamic movie from Danny Boyle’s earliest and most exceptional years, “Shallow Grave” talks big and lives large with a trio of protagonists whose friendship is severely tested by their discovery of a body and a bag full of cash. Written as a pitch-black comedy but revolving around an eccentric crime story, the film employs a Hitchcockian narrative as a doctor, an accountant, and a journalist utilise their most contemptible skills while attempting to both dispose of a body and benefit from the material offerings of their new-found fortune.

Finding humour in fleeting sight gags as the clumsy threesome carry a tarpaulin-wrapped body down the stairs of their apartment building, Boyle presents his comedy in a morally corrupt fashion as spades, hacksaws, and hammers precede champagne, cigars, and fine-dining. Set on destroying the evidence behind their affluence, the trio draw straws and pick their tool of choice but it’s only when Christopher Eccleston’s accountant takes a mallet to the face of the corpse that it becomes clear that Boyle means business and that the nervous accountant might not have what it takes to pull off the job.

Establishing the distinctive texture of his early career, Danny Boyle presents life as a trance through thudding electro beats and strong primary colours, using deep reds, blues, and yellows to reflect the contrasting shades of his three leads as Eccleston’s depressive temperament refuses to mix with the warm tones exuded by McGregor and Fox. Up for risk and thriving on impulse, McGregor steals the show as the short-sighted journalist whose likeability affords him a happy ending that few characters would be allowed to have under such odious circumstances as Boyle permits us to celebrate unlawfulness through the winnings of his flawed protagonist.

To hear more thoughts on “Shallow Grave,” check out the Danny Boyle special of the War Machine vs. War Horse podcast.


Review Date
Shallow Grave