The story of Joseph, a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction. As Joseph's life spirals into turmoil, a chance at redemption appears in the form of Hannah, a Christian charity shop worker. Their relationship develops to reveal that Hannah is hiding a secret of her own with devastating consequences to both of their lives. Written by
In the early bar scene where Joseph is sitting alone talking to himself, the voice off screen saying, "Are you all right, Joseph?" belongs to director Paddy Considine, who said he was so taken in by Peter Mullan's performance that the question was totally spontaneous. See more »
Tyrannosaur, on first viewing, immediately brings to mind another directorial debut by an acclaimed actor, namely Gary Oldman's Nil By Mouth. The crisis of masculinity, the victimisation of women in domestic settings, incremental brutalisation of children, and penchant for violence among certain kinds of weak-willed men are all overlapping themes. The graphic representation of these themes in visual terms is also common to both films. And finally, both contain outstanding performances from their cast.
But writer/director Paddy Considine brings his own stamp to this project in his bold portrayal of an odd couple fleetingly driven together in extreme circumstances. Joseph is a self-loathing, hard-drinking loner, haunted by past failures, particularly in regard to his wife, whom he hit. He tries to make up for his character failings with displays of loyalty to a dying friend. It smacks of too little too late.
Hannah is a devout Christian who works in a Charity Shop during the day, and enjoys a large glass of rioja at night. Her faith is built on less stable foundations than Joseph assumes when they first meet. His attack on her character may well prove to be the last abusive act of his life, such is the scale of regret it will bring in the long-term.
Peter Mullan as Joseph is convincingly lost, playing a character removed by only a few degrees from the father he portrays in Neds. Olivia Colman is simply immense as Hannah, a brittle front easily broached by Joseph's bile, unleashing a fear and unhinged reaction that even the volatile Joseph struggles to comprehend. In between there is a touching vulnerability and unnerving humanity. Eddie Marsan, as the depraved James, once again proves why he is fast becoming Britain's preeminent character actor.
This is character-driven social realist film-making to a certain extent, though there is a prominent three-act structure, exhibited more than in most films of the type, including a quite shocking but satisfying 'surprise' at the end. Tyrannosaur forces you to think about how we treat each other, and about the lives unraveling around us that we choose to turn a blind eye to. A mature debut from Considine, who sets a very high bar for himself.
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