PUBLISHED: 16:27 07 October 2011
Tyrannosaur is the kind of film that that will be praised for putting up on screen people that are usually not shown there and for being “raw and unflinching”.
It’s also the kind of film that would usually have me thinking that flinching was a much underrated virtue and that if people are going to kick dogs to death or pee on women while they are asleep then maybe they don’t deserve to have their own films.
Tyrannosaur, though, is something rather more than the traditional British wallow in misery.
Joseph (Peter Mullan) is an unemployed widower who spends much of his time drinking interspersed with outbursts of violence. Hannah (Olivia Colman) is a Christian who volunteers at a charity shop on an estate. Having their two paths cross initially seems like the film is opening up an almost parodic path to redemption, but this is not a film that is ever likely to take the easy path and it offers up a cunning early twist which flips their relationship.
Mullen has so much screen presence he doesn’t need to over exert himself and he is so very great as Joseph because it is quite the opposite of the kind of show-stopping performance you might expect.
This is a man who is trying to avoid stopping the show, who is mystified and ashamed by his propensity to grab the centre stage with acts of senseless violence.
He is more than matched by Olivia Colman as a woman who is perhaps making the opposite journey, trying to become the centre of her life.
The film pummels much of its worst transgressions into its first 15 minutes. Once established, the threat of extreme violence is mostly allowed to hang in the air without necessarily having to assert itself.
Even so, it’s not an easy watch but ultimately worthwhile.
Kitchen sink misery is deeply engrained in British filmmaking and many a director has made a decent career out of it, but often actors do it best and Paddy Considine’s debut is right up there with Gary Oldman’s Nil By Mouth.
Director: Paddy Considine
Starring: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan, Paul Popplewell, Ned Dennehy and Samuel Bottomley
Length: 91 mins