In a word “breathtaking” is the only word that can be used to sum up Paddy Considine’s feature length directorial debut Tyrannosaur. On an entirely personal level, the movie is one of the few to drive real emotion from me, it literally made me shed more than just a tear.
Joseph (Peter Mullan) is a man on the edge, a bad man, travelling down a continuously dark path, fuelled by alcohol and anti-social behaviour. Since his wife died things have gone more and more downhill, then after a run in at the bookies, he strikes out and end’s the life of his true best friend, his dog. Few movies grab you by the throat from the offset; Tyrannosaur does it more or less instantly.
After a continued downward spiral he meets Hanna (Olivia Coleman) who, when put in danger by the towns most known anti-social face, turns to Joseph and offers him support. After initial issues, Joseph begins to change, become a better person. And then he gets a view into Hannah’s life, a life of abuse at the hands of her husband James (Eddie Marsan).
Few movies are quite as unsettling as Tyrannosaur, there is so much unpleasantness draped around the movie, that even the toughest of hearts will find this a difficult movie to stomach, without feeling uncomfortable. Add to the fact that 90% of the bad stuff seems aimed and the lovely Hannah, played with such finesse by Olivia Coleman. What is quite amazing about the movie is that Considine manages to get the emotions of his audience going, before the characters are even established, normally in a movie if tears are going to flow, they flow towards the end of a movie, when the people you have been watching start to feel like friends or family.
While I heap praise at the emotion, it’s important to point out that this is not a piece of easy viewing, you really need to be in the right frame of mind to go on this journey. This is a journey that feels long, and hard; a truly harrowing experience from the very moment the opening credits roll, this is no movie to provide light visual entertainment.
Paddy Considine is a phenomenal actor, now he is a phenomenal director; he has created an image so realistic you literally feel like your living the journey. Few established directors have the gusto to really make you feel a movie; yet fresh from the gate he breaks solid ground.
While Mullan is phenomenal in the roll of the damaged Joseph, it’s Coleman that really is the beating heart of the movie. You truly believe that she is the character of Hannah, and that this is a life spent in utter misery. And here lies the contrast, Coleman seems to have spent her life in comedy shows such as Peepshow, and this is a gap far too wide, but in a really, really good way.
While I paint a dark image of this movie, it’s dark in an incredibly good way. As you watch the cruelty and suffering that takes place, no matter how good and nice a person you are, this will make you think incredibly hard about whether we are as nice as we could be, it’s a movie that literally want to make you a better person; and I firmly believe that’s the greatest accolade anyone can give a movie, it’s cast, and most importantly it’s director.