Director: Paddy Considine
Starring: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan
Duration: 91 min.
Joseph is an unemployed widower with a drinking problem, a man crippled by his own volatile temperament and furious anger. Hannah is a Christian charity shop worker, a respectable woman who seems wholesome and happy. When circumstance brings the pair together, Hannah appears as Joseph's guardian angel, tempering his fury and offering him warmth, kindness and acceptance. As their relationship develops, Hannah's own secrets are revealed - her husband is violent and abusive - and Joseph emerges as her unlikely savior.
Tyrannosaur is the directorial feature debut by British actor Paddy Considine, an expansion of his BAFTA award winning earlier short film Dog Altogether. It premiered at the 2011 Sundance International Film Festival, winning the World Cinema award for Directing, and Special Jury Prizes for the breakout performances of Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman.
To borrow a term I first learned from one of my most loyal readers and favorite bloggers D4, this film begins with one of the most viciously gut wrenching scar openers in recent memory. Joseph (Peter Mullan), is a man beset with a furious temper and upon leaving the bookies in an apparent fit of blind rage, he delivers a brutal and what turns out to be fatal, kick to the ribs of his own poor barking dog.
It's a brave directorial decision for Considine, risking the alienation of the audience to introduce his main character in this manner, revealing him as such a nasty and violent drunkard who deserves no sympathy. From there, this devastating film doesn't ever really become anything close to an easy watch, but it remains an immensely captivating one, guided by Considine's steady skillful hand which paints a grim hellish reality where his characters reside, and tells it with a mesmerizing series of long patient takes.
At the film's heart is some outstanding acting: from the ever impressive Mullan as a man constantly on the verge of losing it, but shown to be very much a product of his rotten environment, we may never be able to sympathize with him, but we do come to understand him; an astonishing Olivia Colman who displays some incredible emotional range as Hannah—a simple and fragile on the outside, but just as complex and even more tormented Christian charity-shop manager who meets Joseph by chance and eventually becomes a chance for his redemption; and the exceptional Eddie Marsan as Hannah's abusive husband James—the most despicable character of all, who will make your blood boil, and who gets his own fittingly revolting on-screen introduction.
This bleak story and it's setting aren't particularly unique for UK cinema, and some of its details aren't as well rounded as they could be, but with that acting, fully developed main characters, and remarkably confident direction for a first timer, Considine is able to finally muster a glimmer of hope and humanity from the ugly dreary proceedings. No, I won't be in a hurry to watch this again anytime soon, but I fully recommend it as a powerful film that marks a stellar debut and stands as one of the year's best.
— Bonjour Tristesse