Danny Boyle's Secret Pearls

Danny Boyle's Secret Pearls

In 1996 Danny Boyle created cult classic Trainspotting, widely regarded as the film that made British cinema fashionable. Almost 21 years later, Boyle returns to the film that helped establish him as one of the world's top directors. 

Boyle has conquered a variety of genres from horror, science-fiction, and drama to most recently a Steve Jobs biopic. His films centre on the conflict and struggle his protagonists face with the normative behaviours of society. With the upcoming release of 'T2 Trainspotting' we take a look at some of Danny Boyle's lesser known works.

Shallow Grave (1994)

Shallow Grave centres on three friends sharing a flat in Edinburgh and the moral dilemma they find themselves in after finding their new flatmate dead with bundles of cash. There is an eerie, brooding sense of danger shown through Boyle’s stylish camera work. Boyle’s deadpan humour and edgy style is evidence that Shallow Grave is a clear predecessor to Trainspotting, where he refined his craft. 

The Beach (2000)

Adapted from Alex Garland’s novel, Boyle famously dropped Ewan McGregor from the star role in favour for the up and coming American, Leonardo Di Caprio. Boyle attempts to edge his style to the more mainstream, something a gritty British director can find hard to do – and the struggle is clear to see. However, the film intelligently casts Tilda Swinton who helps ground this film which becomes an intriguing examination on human desire and civilisation.

Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise (2001)

Timothy Spall plays the explosive Tommy Rag, a dodgy vacuum cleaner salesman trying to win salesman of the year within his firm. He shouts, swears, and thrives off road-rage like it’s caffeine. The film lacks a mechanical plot, allowing Spall to thrive in a what is a lively and layered performance. Written by Little Voice (1998) screenwriter Jim Cartwright, Boyle allows for a fly-on-the-wall approach, where the camera looks as though it has been rolled through grit, never resting and focusing solely on the characters. It is hilarious, bawdy, and eccentric. Boyle strips this film back to an unflashy minimalist character study about truth and honesty. 

Millions (2004)

After the success of 28 Days Later, Boyle tries his hand at family comedy. Millions is about a 7-year old boy, Damian, who stumbles across thousands of pounds, days before Britain changes currency to the euro. His older brother uses the money for property investments and to boost his popularity around school but Damian uses the money to help the poor after being influenced by the patron saints he idolises. The film centres on Damian’s coming-of-age and his attempts to create miracles for those in need – all driven by the death of his mother. This film is witty, funny, and has imagination in abundance.  

Sunshine (2007)

Boyle’s Sunshine is not the action packed adventure film you would expect. Set in 2057, predominantly within the confines of the spaceship Icarus II, 8 astronauts are sent on a mission to reignite the dying sun and to save Earth from an eternal ice-age. Boyle tackles both science-fiction and religion, using the sun as a metaphor for mans destination, while mixing in moral questions about the importance of human life. He blends the visual splendour of the sun as a beacon with a celestial score, adding a strong sense of relevance and immediacy. The talented and diverse cast are ably assisted by consultations with Dr. Brian Cox to give the film an engaging authenticity in which the science is used to explore subtle nuances of human morality and its relationship to the survival instinct. This is Boyle’s hidden gem.

'T2 Trainspotting' is out now. 

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