Actor Paddy Considine’s highly assured, committed and powerful directorial debut paints aÃÂ bleak but highly recognisable portraitÃÂ of early 21stÃÂ century England.Released theatrically last year, Tyrannosaur did not really garner theÃÂ broadÃÂ host of critical garlands that it should have received.ÃÂ Hopefully,ÃÂ TyrannosaurÃÂ willgatherÃÂ more praise and a much wider audience on DVD.
Though it is undeniably a ”Ëtough’ÃÂ filmicÃÂ experience, it isneither purely a wanton exercise in miseryÃÂ norÃÂ simplyÃÂ a contemporary take uponÃÂ theÃÂ ”ËGrim Up North’ kitchen sink realismÃÂ genreÃÂ of the 1960’s.ÃÂ Considine, unforgettable as the avenging Richard in Shane Meadows’ brilliant 2004 thriller Dead Man’s Shoes, clearly has his own measured style as a director and can marshal incredible performances from admittedly great actorsÃÂ Peter Mullan,ÃÂ Olivia ColmanÃÂ andÃÂ Eddie Marsan.
A compelling and moving drama,ÃÂ also written by Considine and based upon his own awarding winning 2007 short movie,ÃÂ Dog Altogether,ÃÂ Tyrannosaur follows the story of two lonely,ÃÂ brokenÃÂ people brought together byÃÂ accident. JosephÃÂ (Peter Mullan) is an unemployablewidower,ÃÂ heavy drinker, and a man crippledÃÂ by his ownunpredictableÃÂ dispositionÃÂ andÃÂ fumingÃÂ rage. Hannah (Olivia Colman) is a Christian worker at aÃÂ rundowncharity shop, aÃÂ reputableÃÂ woman whoÃÂ seemsÃÂ wholesome and happy. When the pair are brought together, Hannah appearsÃÂ to beÃÂ Joseph’sÃÂ probableÃÂ redeemer, someone who canÃÂ assuageÃÂ hisÃÂ angerÃÂ and offer himÃÂ affection,compassionÃÂ andÃÂ recognition. AsÃÂ they get to know each other,ÃÂ Hannah’s own secret life is revealed. She endures aÃÂ disastrousÃÂ relationship withÃÂ her husband James (Eddie Marsan) who isÃÂ violent andÃÂ deeplyÃÂ abusiveÃÂ towards her. As events spiral out of control,ÃÂ the roles are reversed andJoseph becomes her source ofÃÂ reliefÃÂ andÃÂ consolation.
Considine’s study of masculinity in crisis,ÃÂ vergingÃÂ fromself-destructionÃÂ to extensive violence, is handled withseriousÃÂ intent and shades of gallows humour. Tyrannosaur is not a cheap wallow in other people’s misery but a highly cinematic attempt to define theimpulsesÃÂ andÃÂ extraneousÃÂ forces that produce the damaged characters that populate Considine’sÃÂ movie.The brilliantÃÂ widescreen cinematography of ErikÃÂ WilsonexpressesÃÂ the distance between the leading characters,whileÃÂ Considine’sÃÂ abstemiousÃÂ directorialÃÂ approachrightly foregrounds theÃÂ natural, powerhouseperformances by Olivia Colman and Peter Mullan, rather than flashy cinematic showboating. That Considine and Mullan make us care passionately for a character that is introduced to us kicking his dog to death, his only realcompanionÃÂ he has left in the world, is a testament to their consummate skill.
Considine’s script bristles with sharp wit and insight. During an early encounter, when Hannah tells the troubled Joseph that he’s “God’s child”Â, he replies, “God ain’t my fucking daddy, my daddy was a cunt. He knew he was a cunt. God still thinks he’s God. No-one’s told him otherwise.”ÂÃÂ Colman’s Hannah evinces a greatsurvivalÃÂ instinct, illustrating how such abused women manage to continueÃÂ toÃÂ function, day after day.ÃÂ EvenEddie Marsan’s repellent character isÃÂ drawn without recourse to villainous stereotype; he is simply an empty husk of a man, crippled by feelings of inadequacy,without a trace of empathy for others or the ability to derive any pleasure from his grim existence.
Tyrannosaur does finally offer a vision of some kind of redemption, but, as in life, it is hard earned.ÃÂ Some might find Tyrannosaur aÃÂ ”Ëdifficult’ÃÂ picture to get to grips with, but it is definitely worth the effort.
The Tyrannosaur DVD includes a full audio commentary with Paddy ConsidineÃÂ and producerÃÂ Diarmid Scrimshaw,Considine’s 2007ÃÂ Dog AltogetherÃÂ short film,ÃÂ deleted scenes with Paddy Considine commentary,ÃÂ a stills galleryand trailer.