This review was originally published on January 24, 2011…
Tyrannosaur marks the directorial debut of actor Paddy Considine. Best known for his acting roles in The Bourne Ultimatum and In America, the British-born actor-director also has a knack for seeking out remarkable independent projects such as Pu-239 and Dead Man’s Shoes. It makes sense that his first directorial effort falls into this second category.
Peter Mullan (Session 9) is wholly believable as Joseph, a guilt-ridden widower with sociopathic inclinations. As far as likability is concerned, an alarming opening scene immediately stacks the odds against the film’s protagonist. However, as the narrative progresses, so does Joseph’s mental state—or so it would seem. His transformation begins when he meets Hannah, played by Olivia Colman (Hot Fuzz), a shop owner caught in a brutally abusive marriage. Having experienced both sides of violence, the two strangers form an unlikely bond bound by recovery and sanctuary.
Both performers reprised their roles from Considine’s 2007 short film Dog Altogether. Joining the cast for the feature is famed British actor Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes, Vera Drake) who comes dangerously close to stealing the show with his performance as Hannah’s sadistic husband.
Tyrannosaur is not a subtle film but it makes no claims to be. At points, it’s difficult to watch but the viciousness has its purpose. Considine has created a malicious and punishing world with a heightened sense of cruelty in which to study his characters. Like the summer heat in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, there is an unseen element pushing these people into conflict with one another. These heightened conditions are what allow the film’s exploration of its characters to yield such unchallengeable results. Considine should be extolled for tacking such difficult themes and content in his first feature-length film.