tue 16/09/2014

DVD: Tyrannosaur | Film reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Tyrannosaur

Paddy Considine's award-winning debut is heavy on the swearing but ultimately uplifting

Olivia Colman dresses Peter Mullan in 'Tyrannosaur'

I started keeping a swear word tally at the start of Paddy Considine’s Leeds-set Tyrannosaur and abandoned my efforts several minutes in when it looked as if I was about to fill an entire page. As the film begins, Peter Mullan’s character Joseph does something truly unspeakable to a dog. He then racially abuses the post office clerk where he’s cashing his giro and smashes the shop window. This is a character sorely in need of redemption, and it is to the film’s credit that Joseph’s upward trajectory turns out to be so gripping to watch.

His life unexpectedly intersects with that of Hannah (an astonishing Olivia Colman), the softly spoken charity shop manager among whose second hand clothes he seeks refuge. Hannah’s abusive relationship with her husband James (a terrifying Eddie Marsan) is subsequently conveyed in a series of gruelling exchanges.

Both leads gain in eloquence as the film progresses; Joseph’s monosyllabic four-lettered grunts dropping by the wayside as he begins to open up and communicate with Hannah. But it’s the silences which convey most, particularly the scene near the film’s close after his return from Hannah’s house, when he is unable to tell her what he now knows. Joseph’s static, melancholy gaze, maintained over several minutes, is mesmerising. 

This film has attracted some broadsheet flack; sadly seen by some critics as poverty porn, a movie that the Waitrose demographic can watch with horror and wring their hands at. Tyrannosaur is much, much better than that. It gives us an unsparing, accurate glimpse of a dysfunctional world which is normality for millions. Joseph’s lines are often brilliantly funny. Describing the gang who beat him up, he tells Hannah that “if a baby was on fire, they wouldn’t piss on it”. And when she tells him that she has prayed for him, his riposte is “Well, it didn’t fucking work!” DVD extras include an entertaining, profanity-strewn commentary from director and producer, and Considine’s debut short Dog Altogether, from which Tyrannosaur grew. Bleak and astonishing.

Watch the Tyrannosaur trailer

It gives us an unsparing, accurate glimpse of a dysfunctional world which is normality for millions

rating

5

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