MFR Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Paddy Considine’s directorial debut took many by surprise and I can understand why, displaying a strength and social realism not dissimilar to the potency of someone like Shane Meadows. It’s far from escapist, but this gritty character drama can’t help but impress.
The film stars Peter Mullan as Joseph, a windower; unemployed and a violent alcoholic. After attacking some people in the pub, he runs into a charity shop to hide from himself as much as anything, where he meets Hannah (Olivia Colman), a kind woman working there who offers to pray for him. Joseph laments her for having no idea what real life is like, but we soon understand Hannah’s unspeakably awful home life where she is abused by her husband (Eddie Marsan). Hannah and Joseph strike up a friendship of sorts amidst two incredibly broken lives.
This is an extremely distressing film and at times an incredibly difficult watch, thanks to the strength of the lead performances. It’s so interesting to see Olivia Colman in such a dramatic role, an actress many viewers will be most familiar acting alongside comedy duo Mitchell & Webb in the brilliant sitcom Peep Show or playing various roles on their sketch show. Here she shows her versatility as an actress and I can understand why there’s been a bit of controversy that she was snubbed at the BAFTA’s. This is a performance that requires real subtlety and an emotional fragility that shows she could really can become one of the very finest British actors.
Tyrannosaur takes the subject of domestic abuse in a way few films will be brave enough to tackle and executes it with devastating effect. It really is unflinching in its ambitions and emotionally strenuous, containing the menace deserving of the film’s title. Paddy Considine is clearly a very talented director and whatever he turns to next will certainly be eagerly anticipated.
Tyrannosaur is out now on DVD in the UK. Running time 91 mins. Certificate 18 (UK).
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Review by David Rank