I think Paddy Considine is an amazing talent and, yes, I’d easily put him right up there if pushed to nominate my top three actors of the 21st century. The man can do no wrong. So I was equally eager and nervous to see his directorial debut feature (an expansion from his 2007 short, Dog Altogether). I admit it, I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to slip as comfortably into the role of director as he seemed to slip into his acting parts. Oh me of little faith.
Tyrannosaur is almost an instant, 5-star, 10/10 classic. Almost. It falls just short for reasons so small and inconsequential that I can’t even really put my finger on them. There was just something tiny that held it back from being perfect, perhaps simply the fact that I’m torn between wanting to see the amazing performances again but not wanting to endure many of the stronger scenes (which is just a testament to the power of the film).
The film focuses on Joseph (Peter Mullan), a man often on the brink of violent outbursts. He rages against the world but it seems clear that he also directs most of his rage inwards. After one typical outburst, he shelters behind a rack of clothes in a charity shop and is given some words of kindness by the shop worker, Hannah (Olivia Colman). The two seem to be at polar opposites but all is not what it seems and the audience gets to see how Hannah really lives while Joseph continues being preoccupied with his own anger and bitterness.
Tyrannosaur effectively warns viewers off from the very beginning with a scene that will no doubt offend many animal lovers. If you find that moment difficult to sit through then buckle up . . . . . . because the movie rarely leaves you sitting comfortably and, indeed, has one or two moments so painful to watch that I almost turned away and/or started crying. I somehow avoided both of these reactions and can only say that the central performances kept me so mesmerised that I didn’t want to miss a single moment.
Peter Mullan has been a dependable actor,seemingly capable of great performances in his sleep, for as long as I have known his face onscreen so it’s no surprise that his performance as the angry and afflicted Joseph is a great one. The big surprise here is Olivia Colman. I’ve always liked Colman onscreen, though I haven’t seen too much of her stuff, but always thought of her as a solid comic performer. Watching this movie has changed my view of her completely. I’d go as far as saying that Colman gives the best performance that I’ve seen any actress give in the last decade. This may not be a scientific fact, and I may be forgetting some notable turns that others will want to rush to remind me of, but I honestly can’t think of any role/actress that has made such a huge impact upon me in the past few years. And then we have Eddie Marsan giving another great performance as one of the most loathsome human beings you could imagine, a character so easy to hate but also easy to see as a full human being rather than just an over the top monster.
Considine handles the writing and directing duties like a pro, working with difficult material that he never flinches from and allowing the camera to just get into the best position to focus on the actors (as you might expect). Every shot choice, every line of dialogue, every single beat of the movie seems to be Considine saying to the audience “I know this is uncomfortable, I know this is difficult, I know this is almost unbearable but I also know that this is a story worth telling”. And he’s absolutely right.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: PADDY CONSIDINE
STARS: PETER MULLAN, OLIVIA COLMAN, EDDIE MARSAN, PAUL POPPLEWELL, NED DENNEHY
RUNTIME: 91 MINS APPROX