Tyrannosaur (Paddy Considine, 2011)
2011 was a fantastic year for British cinema and Paddy Considine’s directorial debut Tyrannosaur was undeniably one of the best in that bracket. Rightly nominated for the BAFTA for ‘Outstanding Debut’, Considine’s powerful drama is a beautifully acted, strongly written and intensely raw piece of cinema. The film follows Joseph (Peter Mullan), an aggressive and agitated individual with an uncontrollable rage. He finds redemption in the form of Hannah (Olivia Colman), a sympathetic charity shop worker. However, their unlikely friendship soon reveals that Hannah silently suffers from her own tragic and horrendous troubles.
Tyrannosaur is a film of incredible character and ferocious temperament. With a story that clearly focuses on its personalities and the relationship between them, Paddy Considine succeeds in getting the most out of his superb cast. Olivia Colman brushes aside her tendency to adhere to comedic roles, and puts in a truly striking performance which has been outrageously snubbed by the BAFTAs. Her kind-hearted and religious sentimentality hides a traumatised and emotionally unstable victim of domestic violence, which is perfectly portrayed in Colman’s breathtaking performance. Peter Mullan’s weathered exterior form his character’s ‘battle scars’ as he constantly tries to gain some semblance of humanity and empathy. From quiet stares to pub brawls, Joseph’s moments of stability are continuously thwarted by the ugliness of his surroundings and tragic situation. Every corner of the Leeds estate is uncomfortably littered with frustration and remorselessness, which is shown through the gritty nature of the film’s beautifully constructed cinematography. Tyrannosaur’s composition is one centred on raw emotion, and its muted soundtrack and focused scope triumphs in facilitating a film with a deeply intense and thought-provoking impression. Simply brilliant.
Tyrannosaur is a depressing and uncompromising piece of cinema. Touching on themes of alcoholism, racism, domestic abuse and animal cruelty, Considine isn’t afraid to create a disturbing and shocking world inhabited by troubled and fragile characters. To some extent the film does get slightly too ferocious and thorough in its portrayal of society’s hidden and tragic realities. The opening scene sees Mullan’s character beat his own dog to death which instantly sets the mood and tone. It’s definitely a tough watch.
Studio Canal’s release is a relatively well-packed one. Included is Considine’s BAFTA winning short Dog Altogether, which Tyrannosaur emerged from. Meanwhile, 11 minutes of deleted scenes offer further development to Eddie Marsan and Olivia Colman’s characters. The DVD also includes a commentary by Considine and the producer Diarmid Scrimshaw, which presents a detailed and amusing incite into the film’s production and direction. Well worth a listen.