Wednesday, 21 December 2011


Peter Mullan as Joseph.
Joseph resides in a council house on the Seacroft Estate in Leeds. Joseph is the type of misanthropic male whose back-story can be read on each and every line and crevice engraved on his world weary and battered face. Out first encounter with this lonely hard man is when we find him kicking his own dog to death because he cannot control his anger after an unseen confrontation in a betting shop. Before the powerful and moving Tyrannosaur (2011) reaches is ultimate conclusion Joseph will kill another canine in an even more brutal fashion than the first, probably not an ideal film for animal lovers? It's not until our violent protagonist meets the middle class charity shop assistant Hannah that he begins to reflect on his own misdemeanours. As this gritty story unfolds Paddy Considine's directorial feature film debut gives us, the voyeuristic viewer, the chance to examine two differing situations each involving physical abuse, one completely out in the open, unhidden for all to see and some to sample, the other hidden beneath a veneer of middle class respectability.

Olivier Colman as Hannah.

This movie is about anger and the difficulty some people have in controlling it. It's due to the skill of Considine's writing that allows the humanising of a character that should be beyond humanising and his directorial skill that allows the camera to examine the faults, flaws and sometimes the warmth of characters that reside on the very edges of society. Note the scene of Jack's funeral wake that tends to bring a tear to your eye, aided admittedly by the superb musical track that accompanies the scene.

Eddie Marsan as Hannah's husband James.

As good as Peter Mullan is at portraying Joseph, Olivier Colman steels the film as Hannah with a performance that gives a brutal insight into the suffering, both physical and mental that far too many women have to confront. A great debut film from a man whose acting skills have been showcased in many a fine British feature film. He has been quoted as saying that Tyrannosaur is not to be classed as social realism but rather as a truthful depiction of life.  The film was based on his original short film Dog Altogether (2007), which he wrote, directed and starred in. An award winning film if I ever saw one. 

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