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Movie Reviews




Released: October 7th 2011 (UK)

Directed By: Paddy Considine

Starring: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman

Certificate: 15 (UK)

Reviewed By: Jason Coyle

We first meet Joseph (Peter Mullan) standing outside in the street swearing at imagined enemies and drinking from a can of lager. It is clear he has been thrown out of a pub or shop for being abusive and drunk. He drags his dog down the street in a rage and, in a thankfully short and harrowing scene, kicks the dog to death. As establishing a main character goes, first time director Paddy Considine has his work cut out getting his audience to empathise with Joseph.

Later, when Joseph hides between clothes racks in the charity shop where Hannah (Olivia Colman) works you would be forgiven for thinking that this is the meeting that could destroy Hannah’s life. But Considine manages to wrong foot you at each turn. Instead of calling the police, Hannah walks over to where Joseph is crouched and starts to pray out loud for him. In the first of many wonderful close-ups Joseph cries silently for his own stupidity, anger and the life he is wasting away. This sad and quite tense meeting changes both their lives in unexpected ways.

Joseph is initially dismissive of Hannah as she lives in a fancy house with her husband. He spits out fury at her, mocking her for not giving her husband children. He does this out of self loathing and to prevent anyone from getting close to him. We soon learn that Hannah’s life is not at all perfect as she is trapped in an abusive marriage with James (Eddie Marsan). The scenes that take place in their house are truly harrowing and intense.

There is a tension in the scenes at their house, waiting for something that may or may not happen that is almost unbearable. Thankfully there is some light relief throughout the film with Joseph’s mate Tommy (Ned Dennehy). His ramblings have no real logic or basis in reality which makes them very funny. But darkness is always around the corner for Joseph. He tries to control his temper, whether it is with the thug who lives across the road from him, or the anger he feels as his best friend slowly dies from cancer. There is a sense with Joseph that he has done many bad things in the past but they are not made explicit. There is a scene where he talks about his wife who has died dome years previously. Suffice to say that it links into the title of the film. It gets to the heart of the contradictions of the man who comes across as both callous and loving in equal measure, but definitely full of regret.

It is clear that while Considine has learned a lot from working with Shane Meadows he is definitely his own man. His style is very visual and often makes for some breathtaking shots amidst the misery. A special mention must go the close–ups in the film. We have known since the early days of cinema that close-ups bring you intimacy and emotion that other shots can’t but I cannot remember the last film where they were used so effectively. There is a big scene towards the end of the film where the camera closes in on Hannah as she speaks about how her life has been. The emotion is gut wrenching but the camera does not seem invasive or detached but more of an intimate friend in the scene.

Overall, Tyrannosaur is a film in which Considine has turned a quite brutal story into one that is both bruised and beautiful. It is a film which demands to be seen on the big screen if for no other reason than to see the stunning performances from the cast being shot in such a beautiful way. The cast is excellent with special mention to Mullan and Colman who are both terrific. While Considine the actor is a talent to treasure, the hope would be that he will get behind the camera again sooner rather that later.

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