Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Review - Tyrannosaur

Tyrannosaur is Paddy Considine's baby. He wrote and directed it and in his own words: "It is the film I always wanted to make." To sum up what the film is about in one sentence would, I fear, do it a disservice. It's a complex tale with many lives interweaving - but at the centre of it all are two people. These two people, both damaged in their own way, form an unlikely bond. Joseph, played by Peter Mullen, first meets Hannah (Olivia Colman) after he has thrown a brick through a shop window and decides to hide in a nearby shop. Alone in the shop, Hannah is forced to talk to him. It is this chance meeting that starts their relationship.

It gives nothing away to say that Joseph is a massively violent and abusive man - the opening scene sees him kick a dog to death in a fit of rage and blurt out expletive after expletive as though there were no other words in the English language. So when Hannah, who we see soon after is a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of husband James (Eddie Marsan), forms a relationship with Joseph, it is jarring but sort of comforting. At least he will be able to protect her from her violent husband, you think - unless he hurts her himself.

There are two moments of animal cruelty in the film, a fair few punches and what can only be called one-sided fights and one incident of utterly horrific human on human violence that will leave you stunned. But if you can get past all of that, this is a cinematic masterpiece.

Joseph opens the film, as I said, by kicking a dog to death. Yet you are still invested in him as the film progresses. Mullen is such a phenomenal actor that he brings you into his constant battle with his violent outbursts. It is something that seems very much beyond his control and watching him try to fight the urge to lash out is compelling viewing indeed. He also doesn't know how to be around people. He is abrasive and snappy. So when Hannah prays for him and shows him kindness, he is moved in a way he doesn't fully comprehend.


Hannah is the most fascinating character of all though. Solitary in her work in a charity shop, she is often devoid of human company. She has a strong belief in God, which she uses to get her through her struggles and goes from happy, smiley "I fell in the bathtub" to shaking with fear vulnerability in a second. Known largely as a comedic actress in Peep Show and Hot Fuzz, Colman has done a performance here that should not just win every British award going but every award - period! She never over-plays the role and gives Hannah just that little bit something extra. She is feisty and conflicted and more than just a one-dimensional victim. She has depths you don't see coming.

All in all, the acting, the script and the direction make for a completely brilliant film. It is a snapshot into the lives of the two leads in the time when their paths converge and where that snapshot will take them is anyone's guess. The only fault I can find in the film is the intensity of the violence, which many film-goers will just find too much to bear. But even that is needed to really bring out the heart of the film.

A perfectly acted and written cinematic masterpiece, occasionally too unbearable to watch.

4.5/5 FOBLES

Tyrannosaur hits UK cinemas this Friday 7th October.
For Q&A with Paddy Considine, Olivia Colman and Eddie Marsan click here


1 comment:

  1. I am so pleased that this film has been recognised as the tour de force that it is. In my opinion the word masterpiece is bandied about too much these days, however, I do think this is an excellent film and it ticks all the boxes for me. I wasn't sure about the opening scene which considering what happens later may be surprising but? As usual this is a great review . Thank you :)