Paddy Considine’s directorial debut is a bleak and uncompromising film that shows that as well as being arguably the finest British actor of his generation, Mr Considine also has considerable talent behind the camera.
Tyrannosaur is not for the faint of heart but if you have the stomach then it is well worth putting yourself through it. Peter Mullan plays Joseph, a middle aged alcoholic consumed by rage and impotent anger at the world. His booze fuelled bitterness brings him into the world of Hannah (Olivia Colman), a do-gooding Christian whose own life is far grimmer than her positive, outwardly smiling persona initially suggests. It is this central relationship and the incredible, brave performances from the two main actors that create the film’s heart and drag you along when the going gets really tough. Colman in particular is outstanding and should be a serious contender come award season. Her performance brings to mind that of Kathy Burke in the very similar Nil By Mouth (clearly a touchstone for Considine) in that an actor known mainly for comic roles proves more than a match for more experienced “heavyweight” actors.
There are a few missteps in Tyrannosaur, a lazy montage sequence for example that borrows too heavily from Considine’s good friend Shane Meadows as well as some clumsy music choices. Considine does show a definite visual flair in Tyrannosaur though and his use of close ups and focus as well as some interesting drony soundtrack choices (reminiscent of this years Snowtown) give the film a stronger visual style than most British realism.
Whilst I initially found myself a little disappointed with Tyrannosaur the film’s final 20 minutes absolutely floored me. This is a film with flawed characters living flawed lives where nothing is black and white and no easy solutions tie up the loose ends. A triumphant debut and the first step in what is sure to be a vital new voice in British cinema.