Tyrannosaur Review

Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur is the actor’s first outing as both director and writer of a feature-length film and, given its grim and uncompromising storyline it’s perhaps inevitable that it will draw comparisons with Gary Oldman’s similarly harrowing Nil By Mouth (the fact that Considine hat-tips Oldman in the acknowledgements isn’t going to help matters).

Although the film is harrowing, its careful craftsmanship, sensitivity and restraint elevate Considine’s effort above the level of “poverty porn” (as one Observer piece had it). This is a film that genuinely cares about its characters and never does them the disservice of making them one-note ciphers. On the other hand, it’s a sign of just how thickly Considine lays on the bleak that the film’s “happiest” scene takes place at a wake. It’s a bit of a wonder that Screen Yorkshire put its hand in its pocket to part-fund this, seeing as how the film makes Yorkshire look like Hell with shabbier pubs.

Peter Mullan plays Joseph, a widower consumed with rage against everyone and everything, until his life changes when he meets Hannah (Olivia Colman). Hannah, a Christian and charity shop volunteer, initially seems to be Joseph’s way back from his descent into self-destruction. As he gets to know her better Joseph realises, to his dismay, that Hannah may be even more “fucked” than he is.

Eddie Marsan, in a small but pivotal role, turns in a suitably unnerving performance as Hannah’s sadistic husband – although he’s unsympathetic, Considine gives him one scene where we’re allowed to glimpse a broken, vulnerable wreck. Mullan and Colman are both fantastic, and wring realism from a storyline of such unremitting darkness that not even the boy who lives across the road from Joseph is spared tragedies.

This is not an original take on the darker side of Britain, but a story of the casual cruelties that lead to tragedies. Needless to say, it’s not a date-night movie.

Clare Moody

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