Gritty and disturbing urban drama
Brendan Jamieson | Chicago, IL | 02/22/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Gravesend is certainly a fine example of what a talented director can accomplish with a micro budget and a well written screenplay. The editor's review says this film was produced with $5,000 - Blair Witch Project was done with $25,000 more - and in every way Gravesend is superior. From acting to story to direction. *This* is what should have been released nationally in theaters. The film spans one saturday night and is narrated from time to time by a friend of the four people the film revolves around. "I was glad I wasn't with them that night.." he comments - and he is not exaggerating. An accident in the midst of a fight sends our four "heroes" on a desperate, and inherently flawed, scheme to cover up a death and evade police involvement. The film follows their collision course for tragedy as they scramble to accumulate enough money in 24 hours to pay the only person that can make their problem go away. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that there will be no easy out. Every so often the narrator will offer little tidbits about the characters as well as reminding us that he's glad he wasn't around for the incident he is describing - heightening the suspense of the story until we come to its brutal conclusion. The film has a very gritty feel that could best be compared to that of 'Gummo'. Packed with dark hallways lit only by dim bulbs, the darkness of the picture is intoxicating and effectively conveys the theme of hopelessness that the film so graphically displays. One major distinction between Gravesend and Gummo, however, is that Gummo was incoherent trash. Gravesend is a masterpiece of independent film making."
Jim LaRegina (firstname.lastname@example.org | New Jersey | 08/12/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Four twentysomething men in arrested adolesence let foolish pride lead them to a hard fall in GRAVESEND, an interesting street picture. Without giving away what happens, I thought the film concluded too harshly, but such a story certainly challenges the filmgoer more than most commercial movies would. I'd compare GRAVESEND to GOOD WILL HUNTING for its theme of young under-achievers. But unlike GOOD WILL HUNTING, GRAVESEND offers no Robin Williams and no happy-happy, gonna-see-about-a-girl ending. See GRAVESEND."
Mature, explosive, raw, impeccably edited
amedusa50x | Maryland, USA | 12/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is about much more than some street punks spouting the F word every 3 seconds and losing control after one of them "accidentally" shoots somebody. I'm putting the word "accidentally" in quotation marks because the shooting that catapults these four guys even deeper into the hell they're already in doesn't strike me as accidental; it strikes me as almost preordained.
The whole film seems like a nightmare in which these young men had been trapped since birth, culminating in a nightmare night that mirrors their nightmare lives, lives beginning and ending in violence because that's how some lives seem destined to begin and end in places like Gravesend.
It's easy for us to sit back and say "well, they had a choice, didn't they?" Too easy for us to say that after the "accidental" shooting these four guys could have chosen to go to the police before things went "too far." From the echo of that first gunshot and the thud of that first body upon the floor, however, things probably had already gone "too far."
Even before the gun is fired "accidentally," it seems to be all over for these four guys to a large extent. The moment I saw one of them waving a gun around during that first scene in the basement, I got this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach that, whether he fired it or not at that particular time, all four of them were doomed ... and then he fired it, and I knew for sure that they were doomed, if not physically then certainly psychologically, though they all still retained a degree of choice in the situation.
Watching how they exercise their power of choice for the rest of the film is like watching rats scurrying around in a maze desperately trying to escape but already infected with a fatal virus that will overtake them long before they can find a way out. For me, the suspense in "Gravesend" doesn't lie in wondering whether they'll find a way out but, rather, in wondering which one of them will find a way to behave honorably in an impossible situation from which there is no escape.
It never occurred to me that any of them would genuinely escape, and none of them really does, including the narrator of the story, who claims he wasn't there when these horrendous events happened to four of his friends. Yeah. Sure. Right. He wasn't there. That's what he tells the police, and that's what he tells us, but we know he was there. He couldn't not be there; they were his Gravesend friends, and where they went he went and would always go, could not help but go, will forever go in Gravesend and beyond.
This film is so emotionally powerful on the subject of friendship-to-the-death (and beyond) that the beautifully expressive editing, brilliant scene compositions, and ingenious overall structure of the film can slip by unnoticed, but all of those attributes, and more, are present in "Gravesend." It's a stunning achievement, but I won't say it's a stunning achievement "for so young and untested a director" because "Gravesend" doesn't need that caveat.
It's a stunning achievement. Period.
Not only that, but it has a strange spirituality about it that I can't quite describe."
Little Richard would agree...
rickey l. esteves sr | san francisco, ca United States | 09/10/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was a movie definitely worth it.However (here's where the Little Richard thing comes in) it's basically JUST A RIPOFF OF OMAR EPPS/TUPAC'S "JUICE",USING WHITE GUYS."