21
Apr
09

First Feature: “Shallow Grave,” Danny Boyle

 

danny-boyle1 

Welcome to a new article called First Feature, where we profile a Director and their first movie.

 

This month’s Director-at-large: Danny Boyle

His First Feature: “Shallow Grave” (1994)

 

Danny Boyle is a British director who cleaned up this past year’s Academy Awards with his movie, “Slumdog Millionaire,” based on the novel by Vikas Swarup. Overall I’ve enjoyed Boyle’s work which has given the cinematic world pieces to talk about. “Trainspotting,” helped to put Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle on the map (McGregor would go on to become Obi-Wan Kenobi and Carlyle would eventually become a Bond villain). I’m probably one of the few who enjoyed “A Life Less Ordinary.” “28 Days Later” reinvented, if not reinvigorated, the zombie-movie franchise (“Resident Evil” doesn’t get all the credit). “Sunshine” had great special effects but was only 2/3 of a good movie (not a big fan of the last third of it).

 

Boyle worked in TV before his first movie, “Shallow Grave.” In “Shallow Grave,” three flat mates (Ewan MacGregor, Christopher Eccleston, and Kerry Fox) are auditioning for a fourth flat mate to help share the costs. After breezing through and testing several applicants they agree on Hugo, a purported writer. The morning after Hugo is accepted he doesn’t wake up. The three force open his door and find that he OD’d on heroin and left a suitcase full of money. Unbeknownst to them there are two prisoners trying to track down Hugo and the money. The trio makes a pact to stay silent and cut up Hugo’s body, leaving him in the woods. While McGregor and Fox start going through the money, Eccleston has other plans. He takes the money and hides it in the attic, thus beginning his descent into darkness. The three have it in for one another and when the cops and prisoners come around it all becomes a slow spiral into hell.

 

“Shallow Grave” is as good a “starter” film as any. It’s funny, dark, and psychological. All three actors are great. Incidentally it was the first movie for McGregor, who teamed up with Boyle again for the movies “Trainspotting,” and “A Life Less Ordinary,” before striking out and getting the role of Obi-Wan in the “Star Wars” prequels. Christopher Eccleston would later appear in the “Gone in 60 Seconds,” remake as well as the first season of the new “Doctor Who.” Fox was in “Welcome to Sarajevo,” and mainly acts in British fare.

 

Boyle’s themes and styles have roots in “Shallow Grave.” The opening scene is a frenetic, techno-thumping tour of flats in England. Using techno music to accentuate a scene can be found in “Trainspotting,” “A Life Less Ordinary,” and especially “28 Days Later.” His use of a mechanical baby doll to portray a creepy sense of innocence is like the scene from “Trainspotting” where McGregor is hallucinating and sees the baby crawling across the ceiling. And yes, every Danny Boyle movie has a scene in the bathroom: in “Shallow Grave,” McGregor has the crap beaten out of him; in “Trainspotting,” McGregor crawls into a the “shittiest toilet in Scotland” to retrieve some drugs, and in “A Life Less Ordinary” McGregor stands in the bathroom and hatches his plan to confront the CEO about the loss of his job.

 

For more info on Danny Boyle, check out his IMDB at:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000965/

 

 

 

 

 

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