Published Jan 26, 2012Tyrannosaur is a grim, bleak film about grief, abuse, pain and the loss of hope. It focuses on the interaction between two people: Joseph (Peter Mullan), an angry, bitter drunk dealing with the aftermath of the loss of his wife, the cancer diagnosis of his best friend and the brutal end of his pet dog at his own hands, and Hannah (Olivia Colman), a deeply religious woman caught in a loveless, abusive marriage. Tyrannosaur doesn't romanticize its subjects, nor does it pull any punches. It is a film about depressing circumstances, but it is far from a depressing experience. On the contrary, Tyrannosaur is one of the very best movies of the year.
The directorial debut of excellent English character actor Paddy Considine, Tyrannosaur is a film so sharply observed and deeply concerned about its characters that any reservations over the bleakness of the subject matter are washed away by Considine's assured writing and direction. Similar to, and influenced by, the directorial debut of pal Gary Oldman, Nil By Mouth, Tyrannosaur seems crafted from the actor's practice of revealing the nuances of human interactions.
Mullan (who also directed the similarly gritty Non-Educated Delinquents earlier this year) turns in one of his finest performances. There is complexity to Joseph beyond his rage and Mullan brings the exact right amount of vulnerability when it's called for. Mullan has carved out a reputation as one of the screen's most riveting actors and his work here is up to his typical high standards.
On the other hand, Colman (previously best known for her work on the Brit-coms Peep Show and Look Around You) is a revelation. Her vulnerability is absolutely palpable throughout and her emotional breakdown in dealing with two violent men ― Joseph and husband James (Eddie Marsan) ― is heartbreaking. She delivers an extraordinary performance, one that singes itself into your psyche.
Tyrannosaur is an often-brutal film, but it's also brilliant and emotionally gutting. Considine has proven to be an unpredictable, but reliable character actor, the kind of presence it's impossible to cast your eyes away from, but Tyrannosaur boldly suggests that his best work may yet come. (D Films)