Gravesend Review

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Unable to afford the services of the local underworld Mr. Fix-it, the volatile group sets about DIY corpse disposal, but spends the entire evening driving around engaged in pointless convoys, petty theft and flare-ups while covering their tracks via an ever increasing body count.


Produced for the sub-peanuts sum of $5,000, Sal Stabile's debut feature arrives with the double barrelled kudos of a "Presented by Oliver Stone" credit and the fact that its self-taught helmer was immediately snapped up by the DreamWorks SKG stable. Happily, for once, the trumpeting is justified as Gravesend, trading in the kind of excitement $200 million can't buy, heralds an exciting new voice to the filmmaking fraternity.

Set during one long night in the down'n'dirty suburb of Gravesend (Brooklyn, not Kent), the action centres on four friends left dealing with the aftermath of a corpse, following an accidental killing.

If the plot all sounds a bit like Shallow Grave out of Scorsese, it shouldn't. Stabile shoots the whole piece through with a palpable feel for disenfranchised, dead end lives leavened only by top drawer performances, improvisational immediacy and uniquely slanted humour - a moment in which the quartet sing tearfully along with Louis Armstrong's What A Wonderful World is just priceless. Best of all, however, is Stabile's ear for language, grasp of character and fresh style, mish-mashing gritty black and white imagery, humorous voice-over, video profiles and frenetic editing, to extremely powerful ends.

Occasionally, the grim tone feels one note, yet Stabile's raw energy carries you through - this is about as cutting edge as movies get.