DVD: Tyrannosaur | Film reviews, news & interviews
Paddy Considine's award-winning debut is heavy on the swearing but ultimately uplifting
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
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
Fifth time around, and still nothing is impossible for Tom Cruise
theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top movies out now
The earnest 1979 TV series where Nigel Kneale’s professor bowed out
Dziga Vertov's dazzling 1929 opus captures a day in the life of an idealised Soviet city
Long overdue tribute to a forgotten British film-maker
Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts confront mid-life anxieties in Noah Baumbach's wry comedy
Jake Gyllenhaal is the human punchbag seeking redemption in Antoine Fuqua's boxing drama
Robert Carlyle's debut as director is confident, and darkly comic
'I'll be back': Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in an unusually low-key zombie movie
Drab lead dominates overlong chronicle of a DJ in the Nineties French dance music scene
Portrait of a contemporary New York marriage needs some fixing-up
Gore Vidal and William F Buckley, Jr change the terms of TV debate in 1968