Gritty and honest, a true British film of unforgettable significance.
Paddy Considine has long been one of British cinema’s best-kept secrets. While he may have dabbled in big Hollywood fair such as The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) and Cinderella Man (2005) he has always been at his best in low budget British films. Forming a Scorsese/De Niro like partnership withShane Medows, Considine is a revelation in such films as Dead Man’s Shoes(2004) and A Room For Romeo Brass (1999). Furthermore, Considine has proven himself as something of a chameleon in acting terms hopping from deadly serious character dramas with Shane Medows to more comical fair withHot Fuzz (2007) and his brilliantly whacky turn in last year’s Submarine(2011). So for his latest trick Considine has turned writer-directing of Tyrannosaur, a film that falls firmly into the Medows school of hard-knock life but packs a hugely powerful and often bloody punch.
Joseph (Peter Mullan) is a man at war with himself and the world. Self-destructive and hostile to all he encounters he is on a spiralling vortex to prison or worse. With his best, and seemingly only, friend on his death-bed Joseph runs the risk of being more alone than he ever thought possible. That is until a chance encounter with Christian charity shop worker Hannah (Olivia Colman). Hannah maybe all smiles on the outside but she suffers in silence with her abusive husband James (Eddie Marsan) and soon her and Joseph sparked up an uneasy friendship.
It should be stated very early on that Tyrannosaur is not always pleasant or comfortable viewing. This is a world of run-down housing estates where brutality and hostile encounters are a regular occurrence. It is about a man on the edge of society, an outcast and hateful individual the likes of which you would give a wide birth if you saw him standing at a bus stop. However, like much of Medows’ output the film conveys more than just the grime and grit of Britain. Behind all these dilapidated houses and flee infested pubs are real people with real problems who more often than not will surprise you in the best ways possible when pushed too far.
Considine’s direction is effortless in its execution. Capturing a sense of gloom with a silver lining on the horizon. It is this silver lining that keeps both the characters and, more importantly, us routing for Joseph and Hannah. You long for them both to escape their own personal hells.
Crucially Considine’s casting ability is staggering. Peter Mullan has that angry at the world quality but his dulcet Scottish tones convey something altogether more poetic, a smouldering emotional core that Considine uses to wonderful effect. Joseph is not always likeable, indeed when we first meet him he’s outright vile. But Mullan never allows you to lose sight of the damaged baggage he carries around with him. His relationship with Hannah often waivers but his interactions with his young neighbour Samuel are beautifully fleeting and always affectionate. Indeed young actor Samuel Bottomley, in his first screen appearance, should be closely followed based on this performance. However, it is Olivia Colman who proves to be nothing short of an acting revelation. Best known for her role as Sophie in TV’s Peep Show, here she brings so much gravity and heartbreaking pain to the role of Hannah you want to hug her whenever she is on screen. It’s hard to watch when she cries but devastating to behold when she forces another smile through the pain etched on her face. That she has not been more widely recognised by the award season is a crime we’d like Joseph to take his trusty stick to.
If certain politicians had their way films like Tyrannosaur would never be made. It would be to cinema’s detriment if this were the case because while often gruelling to behold Tyrannosaur marks the beginning of a hugely talented filmmaker’s career and one that should be supported and shouted from the rooftops by anyone who sees this film. It screems, stomps and roars at you but this is one dinosaur you will love to see tamed.