Tyrannosaur : review
Tyrannosaur : review of one of the films of the year..out now on DVD

Tyrannosaur : review
Tyrannosaur : review of one of the films of the year..out now on DVD

Actor Paddy Considine’s highly assured, committed and powerful directorial debut paints a bleak but highly recognisable portrait of early 21st century England.Released theatrically last year, Tyrannosaur did not really garner the broad host of critical garlands that it should have received. Hopefully, Tyrannosaur willgather more praise and a much wider audience on DVD.

Though it is undeniably a ”Ëœtough’ filmic experience, it isneither purely a wanton exercise in misery nor simply a contemporary take upon the ”ËœGrim Up North’ kitchen sink realism genre of the 1960’s. 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 actors Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman and Eddie Marsan.

A compelling and moving drama, also written by Considine and based upon his own awarding winning 2007 short movie, Dog Altogether, Tyrannosaur follows the story of two lonely, broken people brought together by accident. Joseph (Peter Mullan) is an unemployablewidower, heavy drinker, and a man crippled by his ownunpredictable disposition and fuming rage. Hannah (Olivia Colman) is a Christian worker at a rundowncharity shop, a reputable woman who seems wholesome and happy. When the pair are brought together, Hannah appears to be Joseph’s probable redeemer, someone who can assuage his anger and offer him affection,compassion and recognition. As they get to know each other, Hannah’s own secret life is revealed. She endures a disastrous relationship with her husband James (Eddie Marsan) who is violent and deeply abusive towards her. As events spiral out of control, the roles are reversed andJoseph becomes her source of relief and consolation.

Considine’s study of masculinity in crisis, verging fromself-destruction to extensive violence, is handled withserious intent and shades of gallows humour. Tyrannosaur is not a cheap wallow in other people’s misery but a highly cinematic attempt to define theimpulses and extraneous forces that produce the damaged characters that populate Considine’s movie.The brilliant widescreen cinematography of Erik Wilsonexpresses the distance between the leading characters,while Considine’s abstemious directorial approachrightly foregrounds the 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 realcompanion 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”, 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.”Â Colman’s Hannah evinces a greatsurvival instinct, illustrating how such abused women manage to continue to function, day after day. EvenEddie Marsan’s repellent character is 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. Some might find Tyrannosaur a ”Ëœdifficult’ picture to get to grips with, but it is definitely worth the effort.

The Tyrannosaur DVD includes a full audio commentary with Paddy Considine and producer Diarmid Scrimshaw,Considine’s 2007 Dog Altogether short film, deleted scenes with Paddy Considine commentary, a stills galleryand trailer.

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