Dir: Paddy Considine
Cast: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan
When a respected actor makes their directorial début, you often see them taking the lead from a film maker who they are most closely associated with. In Considine’s case this is probably Shane Meadows, and whilst there is a small element of Meadow’s work on show in Tyrannosaur, it is far more reminiscent of Gary Oldman’s Nil By Mouth and Mullan’s own NEDS. Indeed, in the Q&A after, Oldman is cited as an influential sounding board and a great supporter in the realisation of this film.
Tyrannosaur is the story of Joseph (Mullan) who is a ticking time-bomb of pent-up rage and bitterness. We witness his gradual dissent into self-destruction, until one day he seeks refuge from himself in Hannah’s (Colman) shop. He dismisses her as a do-gooder who has an easy life, but Hannah hides her own dark secrets behind a shroud of religion. To the outside, the relationship with her “perfect” husband James (Marsan) appears idyllic, but all is not as it seems.
This is not a comfortable film, but it is an incredibly powerful and moving drama. In the Q&A after, Considine stressed that he didn’t want Tyrannosaur to look like a cheap British drama, but wanted it to be a piece of work that would hold its own against all comers. Despite the film only costing a mere £750,000, he has managed to produce something that is not only beautiful, but almost flawless. It is easy for a first-time director to fall into the trap of trying to squeeze as much into each shot as possible. The ‘greats’ let their films progress at their own speed, never rush or resort to inserting dialogue where none is required. One of the greatest feats Tyrannosaur pulls off is the perfect pace and timing of each scene. This is no mean task, but is made much easier by the calibre of acting on show.
I can’t think of one actor who doesn’t produce a pitch perfect performance. Mullan has earned a reputation for his acting and he only builds on it here. His brooding portrait of a man torn between sadness and uncontrollable rage is astonishing. I couldn’t envisage anyone else playing this role. His resurrection is so beautifully handled as to be almost make it poetic. Colman is a revelation. Her portrait of a woman trying to justify her life within the context of her religion, wrestling with despair and resignation is earth-shattering. Marsan portrays an exponent of domestic violence with a steady malice which is truly chilling.
This is gritty, brutal and emotive, whilst never straying into melodrama. The script cleverly defies convention, and the story stays unresolved until the very end. Music is used sparingly and is unobtrusive whilst long silences ramp up the tension, leaving the audience struggling for breath at times. A directional début with all the delicacy, vision and mastery of an old hand, Tyrannosaur is a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
A cinematic kick in the teeth.
On general release from Friday 7th October