Having long been a fan of Paddy Considine’s acting and screenwriting collaborations with Shane Meadows, I was very excited to see his directorial debut Tyrannosaur. Not for the faint hearted, it’s got an 18 certificate for a reason…
Giving nothing away, the opening scenes see the protagonist Joseph (Peter Mullan) drunkenly and angrily kick his beloved dog to death after losing at the bookies. As if that’s not hard enough to stomach, Joseph’s ensuing remorse at killing his only friend leaves you confused about whether to loathe this character or feel a hint of sympathy for him.
To say Joseph is a troubled soul is to put it mildly. He’s a man whose wife died five years before, after he treated her miserably. He lives in a surprisingly well-kept house in a miserable area, and spends his time watching the young son of his neighbour being neglected by his mother and her rottweiler-wielding boyfriend.
Things start to change when Joseph stumbles into a charity shop run by middle-class, Christian do-gooder Hannah (Olivia Colman). She tries to help Joseph, little realising that her sinister husband James (the wonderful Eddie Marsan) is maliciously observing and stacking the implausible ‘evidence’ up as reasons to inflict further degrading torture and abuse on her in their comfortable home.
Considine’s script and direction hold nothing back. This is as bleak and as harsh as a film can be, and turns in not only amazing efforts from Considine, but an astonishingly brilliant performance from Colman. Having seen her as Sophie in the sitcom Peep Show (and briefly as Considine’s weary ex-girlfriend in the film Le Donk and Scor-zay-zee), in Tyrannosaur she proves that neither of those roles prepares you for the onslaught of her pared back performance as battered Hannah, whose face grows more bruised with every scene.
I could barely speak when the end credits rolled. Tyrannosaur will have you running the gauntlet of emotions from anger to sympathy, nausea and disgust, feel-good to feel-repulsed. The Watershed write-up calls the film “brutal” and “corrosive”, but that’s just the start of it…
This is an extremely impressive and arresting account of domestic abuse on film. But it’s not for the faint hearted.