Director: Paddy Considine
Starring: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan
Run time: 92 mins
Paddy Considine is probably best known as an actor. Starring both on the small and big screen, his work ranges from Hollywood blockbusters like The Bourne Ultimatum, to British comedy Hot Fuzz, and of course his early work with Shane Meadows in Dead Man’s Shoes and A Room For Romeo Brass. However, his earth-shattering directorial début with Tyrannosaur will surely alter this conception.
Written and directed by Considine, Tyrannosaur is a brutal, unflinching story of abuse, torment and survival. Set across the class divide, the film follows Joseph (Peter Mullan) and Hannah’s (Olivia Colman) unlikely friendship, as they learn to support each other through incredible hardship. It’s a film about real people, filmed in a very real and uncompromising way. Although there is incredibly strong and graphic violence, it doesn’t feel gratuitous or self-indulgent. In fact, set against the domestic back-drop, this ingrained, unquestioned violence becomes even more shocking, symptomatic of long-standing social issues of race, gender, class and community.
Filmed in the shadows of night and the harsh grey light of the mornings after, Tyrannosaur questions what is hidden behind the sacred privacy of an Englishman’s front door, examining the darker side of domestic life with an unflinching truthfulness. Olivia Colman’s performance reaches new heights for her as an actor, portraying the murkiest shades of human experience with an incredibly moving integrity that is compulsively watchable. The interaction between Colman and Mullan is breath-taking. The stark contrast between their characters oscillates between a very British black humour and the painful silences of unspoken truths, as they learn from each other, in an attempt to just keep going.
The film is very much Considine’s personal vision, him being “dead-set” about the “world of Tyrannosaur, about the aesthetic, about the script and the story”. It is a very stripped-down film, free from the flashy and the gaudy, provoking a purely guttural reaction from the viewer. In Considine’s own words, it’s reassuring that “there are people out there who want to see movies about people, and not about robots beating the shit out of each other”.
Disturbing, brutal and incredibly moving, Tyrannosaur fearlessly exposes the unseen and accepted violence of the everyday. Explicit in all senses of the word, Considine’s uncompromising and striking direction creates a tragic story of insurmountable pain and unfaltering friendship, reminding us that at heart, we are all just walking with dinosaurs.