Paddy Considine's directorial debut has been a widely anticipated event. With his excellent performances throughout his British cinematic career, most notably his work with Shane Meadows, a dark, churning piece of cinema was what we have been expecting. We have not been let down. Tyrannosaur is as gritty as it is gripping. The setting in a Northern industrial, working class community – the estates of Leeds, creates the imprisoned physical environment for Joseph (Peter Mullen) an alcoholic, self-loathing widower who meets a Christian charity worker (Olivia Coleman) and we are drawn into their troublesome worlds. The films workings of violence and desperation draws another influence to my mind, which is Gary Oldman's directorial debut 'Nil by Mouth'. Both are lavished in gritty, deglamorised violence. Both have a tendency to stare the darkness in the eye, unlike some audience members (including myself) that will have an undeniable urge to look away. It's a representation of life on the underside, where it often is difficult, dark, testing and sometimes evil in its twists of fate. The film has a strong link to animalistic representations, an element to which instantly brought Andrea Arnolds award winning short film 'Dog' to mind. The idea of trapped animals and the capabilities of those pushed too far is a powerful and dominating theme. Needless to say the challenging viewing nature of this film forms the base of its appeal. Its unflinching and unapologetic brutality could be deemed too prosaic for the majority of mainstream cinema goers. You will need to be ready for the challenge to fully take in and be moved by the film, it's not one to watch on a Sunday morning, put it that way. The direction and acting are the notables in this production. Most notably Olivia Coleman, whose supporting role threatens to overshadow that of Mullen's, if it wasn't for his own exceptional performance. Mullen portrays Joseph in such a way that despite his loathsome qualities he remains human and even relatable, at times when other characters don't. But it is Coleman's character and performance that really underpins and illuminates the rest of the feature. Her character is an almost polarised opposite in comparison with Joseph however as the plot turns we are exposed to an array of character transformations. It is these that actually help support the minimalistic plot which allows us to focus and be consumed by these iridescent performances. Considine has excelled himself in his writing and direction, with very few criticisms that could be levelled at each, other than those looking to nit-pick. Whilst somewhat preoccupied with the grim and depressive side of the characters, the film triumphs as it chase's the ray of light at the end of the tunnel. For all its depressing and challenging nature it mirrors the lives it portrays and the personal struggles of the characters, as they keep pushing and fighting. An excellent first feature from Considine and I personally cannot wait for his next offering.
Joseph, a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction, earns a chance of redemption that appears in the form of Hannah, a Christian charity shop worker.
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April 10, 2019