tyrannosaur | movie review

Posted on April 23, 2012


The first time I came across Paddy Considine was in Shane Meadows’ fantastic Brit-flick, Dead Man’s Shoes, where he plays a soldier who has returned home to take revenge on the local thugs for what they did to his mentally ill brother. I was blown away by his performance. Well this week I had a chance to see Paddy’s feature film directorial debut, Tyrannosaur.

It appears that he’s able to convey just as much power behind the camera as he can in front of it. It’s an emotional monster of a movie that is, at its heart, a love story. But you can forget this being a chick flick. This isn’t a movie to watch on your first date, this is a mature, raw [at times] disturbing, brutally honest and down to earth movie, about two normal people and the pain that they live with.

Tyrannosaur is set in what could be one of any of the countless poverty stricken suburban towns of England, made up of bleak houses and rundown streets and shops.
Joseph [Peter Mullen on top form who was more recently seen in War Horse] is a man who has a rage that he struggles to contain, and this is wearing him down. We are introduced to Joseph as he exits a betting shop and lays into his own dog – killing it! He is a broken human being, but despite being a violent man who we initially recoil from for his actions and behaviour, we slowly become sympathetic to him as the layers of his pain and anger slowly peel away.
Hannah [Olivia Colman in one of the greatest performances I have ever witnessed on screen – I kid you not!] works in a charity shop. She is a woman who has a deep Christian faith, but she isn’t a person whose life is perfect and safe. On the contrary, we soon find that she too is a broken human being. Her faith however isn’t a crutch for her to depend on – it is in fact her strength. Her husband James [Eddie Marsan – Guy Richie’s Insp. Lestrade] is not a kind man. In fact, he’s downright despicable!
There are other characters like Joseph’s friendly young neighbour, Samuel, who is disliked and teased by his dog owning ‘father’ whose pooch is permanently chained round his waist! All well rounded characters – even though they hold very little screen time, which is testament to Considine’s mastery at both writing and directing.

As the emotional wall between Hannah and Joseph slowly breaks down, the dialogue between them opens up to reveal who they really are, and they find something in each other that they come to depend on, and which slowly brings them even closer together. Despite their pasts and how this has left them scarred, they see hope. which in amongst all this tragedy – is a beautiful thing.

Tyrannosaur is a character piece, and the story is so grounded in reality that it is at times very difficult to watch. The language and violence [while disturbing] are necessary to tell this story. The subtlety and power of both Mullen and Colman’s performances is mind-blowing and heartbreaking, and is the main reason for watching this movie.

If you are after a nice night in front of the tv, give this a miss.
If you want to watch a truly captivating piece of Brit-Cinema. Here it is!


The real sadness that hits me when I’ve sat through a film like this is that the type of existence we see on the screen is very real for so many people. Domestic abuse, alcoholism, regret, guilt, fear and loneliness are how so many people live their lives. This is what constitutes ‘normal’ for them. To a certain extent each one of us has elements of one of some of these in our life. Guilt for something we’ve done or said that hurt someone. Fear of what might happen if… Regret for not saying something when we had the chance. Loneliness from losing a loved one. Abuse… in whichever form it takes.
We are all broken. We are all human.

God has promised that He “…will never leave you, or abandon you.” [Hebrews ch13v5]

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