As one of the finest British actor’s of his generation, Paddy Considine’s directorial debut Tyrannosaur proves that he has the potential of being a masterful filmmaker too.
Set in the drab pastures of Leeds, we first meet our anti-hero Joseph (Peter Mullan) after he is thrown out of a betting shop. Drunk, disorderly and in a fit of rage, he kicks his dog to death. It’s a devastating opening scene, illustrating not only how the now companionless widow is a tormented soul, but also just how dark and distressing the following ninety minutes of Tyrannosaur will be.
Running away from another crime scene, he stumbles into a charity thirft shop, only to be greeted by the affluent woman of god Hannah (Olivia Colman). Initially afraid, she consoles Joseph and, after a few heated exchanges, they start up an unlikely kinship, which shelters them from their harsh living situation outside. For Joseph, his martyrdom and loneliness, and for Hannah, her turbulent marriage with degrading husband (Eddie Marsan).
Famous for his many acting roles in the films of Shane Meadows’ (Dead Man’s Shoes, A Room For Romeo Brass), Considine expresses the same level of austerity in his own filmmaking. Rather than present a highly stylised portrait of underclass Britain, he focuses on characterisation and performance; managing to reveal three of the best performances I’ve seen all year. Peter Mullan (Trainspotting, Warhorse) is both enchanting and sympathetic as the hapless Joseph, whilst Eddie Marsan (Happy Go Lucky, Sherlock Holmes) invokes terror whenever his gleaming eyes and insincere grin fill the screen. Best of all, Olivia Colman (the unsung star of TV comedy series Peep Show) is finally given the breakout role she deserves as Hannah. Fragile and sympathetic, she is the beacon of light amongst the darkness, leading to inevitably devastating closing scene.
Tyrannosaur continues the social realism trend set out by politically conscious Ken Loach and the wryly-comical Mike Leigh. It’s a story of disconnected people looking for humanity. One of the best British kitchen sink dramas of recent years, it might be relentless miserable, but Tyrannosaur suggests that Considine has a bright future ahead.