Fresh from the Shane Meadows school of film, Paddy Considine has put forward one of the bleakest films of the year in Tyrannosaur. His directorial debut pulls no punches with horrible scenes of domestic abuse and unexplained violence.
The film opens with Peter Mullan’s Joseph softly tapping a baseball bat against his head in an unknown Northern English town. It is a scene which tells us that we’re in for a rough ride. Mind you, if you’d seen the trailer for the film, you knew what to expect.
Joseph is as rough as his appearance, and is easily prone to violence which one wonders whether it is due to a psychological imbalance or from previous experiences. Whether it is attacking pet dogs or neighbours, he knows he is going down the wrong path and wants to stop.
After a violent encounter in a pub, he takes refuge in a charity shop run by Olivia Colman’s Hannah, a good-natured woman putting up with life’s lot. From the moment of their encounter, Hannah has a calming influence over Joseph, who relies on her Christian faith to keep her going through a difficult marriage that has brought forth no children.
She also believes others can benefit from God’s love.
But Joe throws her goodwill back in her face and insults her, yet she runs back to this vicious monster, mainly because her abusive husband (played by Eddie Marsan) inflicts black eyes – and worse injuries – on her. In place of him she finds solace and warmth in Joe.
The domestic violence leaves a nasty, bitter taste in the mouth and a cold, uncomfortable feeling over the rest of the body. This is not a film for a first date, or indeed any relationship anniversary.
Mullan’s gruff performance perfectly captures the tortured monster that is Joseph, but the plaudits should be going to comedy actress Colman, who is the ying to his yang.
Her performance is far removed from Sophie in Peep Show, and the ditzy Harriet in Green Wing.
Colman and Mullan waltz perfectly through the film, playing off each other magnificently, but it is Colman’s performance that is the stronger by being less confrontational.
But Tyrannosaur’s not a film that engages throughout and that is somewhere Considine needs to work on. It is still an impressive debut but it is too close to Meadows that it could almost be one of his mentor’s own.
The credits rolled with a sense of relief that the horror was over but left far too many unanswered questions and plot holes than I would have liked. A bleak and empty feeling is left which needs replacing with a bottle of gin … or perhaps a good comedy, depending on the tipple of your choice.