Sunday, 16 October 2011

Tyrannosaur - review

It would be easy at this point to pull out phrases like "hard hitting" and "a film that pull no punches" but that would be in incredibly poor taste because Tyrannosaur is a film where one of the main themes is domestic violence, so I won't.
But make no mistake, this new film by actor-turned-director Paddy Considine, can be very hard to watch, and stomach, due to some unflinching violence, both physical and verbal.

Joseph (Peter Mullan) is not a nice guy, by his own admission.  He drinks, gambles, fights and alienates everyone around him.  One day he stumbles into a charity shop run by Hannah (Olivia Colman).  She offers to pray for his soul and he writes her off as a God-loving goodie-two-shoes but Hannah is hiding a secret.  She's the victim of horrific domestic abuse from husband James (Eddie Marsan, cornering the UK market on playing absolute creeps).

Much has been made of Olivia Colman and she deserves all the praise and accolades she gets.  Primarily known for comedic work as Sophie on Peep Show, she shows a completely different side to her and delivers a completely raw and devastating performance.  One scene in particular that stands out is when James is apologising for hitting her and she is telling him she forgives him but her face is telling a different story, a mixture of hate for him and herself for allowing it to happen.
Mullan is also terrific as Joseph, a simmering volcano of rage that could erupt at anytime and on anyone whether that be his dog, a neighbour or random down the pub, and pitches it just right that he doesn't alienate the audience completely and draws them into his plight, trying to turn his life around and keep his temper at bay and Hannah may be his solution.
It seems that British actors who turn to directing are drawn to the theme of domestic violence, see Gary Oldman's Nil By Mouth, and in addition to drawing terrific performances from his actors, Considine also wrote the script (which is good except for a slightly clumsy final segment which ties up one of the plot threads) and has crafted an affecting film from grim subject matter but has injected plenty of heart and even a dash of humour that helps to alleviate the risk of the film descending into pure misery porn.
Don't be surprised to hear someone call out Paddy Considine's name when announcing the winner of the Best First Feature at next year's BAFTAs.

4 stars


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