Tyrannosaur – movie review

Tyrannosaur – 2011 – movie review

A grim and  harrowing drama in the style of Ken Loach or Mike Leigh. The story begins with Joseph, played by Peter Mullan, who I loved in My Name is Joe, but I also know him from small parts in Trainspotting and Shallow Grave. Joseph is an angry man, and doesn’t do a lot to endear the viewer to him in his first few scenes.

Set in Leeds suburbs, Joseph meets Hannah, a middle-class woman of faith who works in a charity shop. Olivia Coleman plays Hannah. I didn’t think it was possible for me to love her any more, but the woman can do anything, from making me laugh in Peep Show and Green Wing to making me cry in this movie and in Exile. She also played Carol Thatcher in The Iron Lady, although it took me a bit longer to recognise her, Meryl Streep said that she is “divinely gifted”. She was half the reason why I was so looking forward to seeing this film. I can’t wait to see what she does next, she is one of my favourite actors working at the moment.

The other half of the reason why I was so looking forward to watching this film is Paddy Considine, the writer and director. I know him from his collaborations with Shane Meadows, who I can say with almost complete certainty is the best film maker to have come out of North Staffordhsire, England. Meadows and Considine are from towns about ten miles away from mine, and I think it might be required by local law that I like and support them. In the case of much better known, but considerably less talented Robbie Williams, this is a tough one, but not so with these guys, if you haven’t seen This is England, go out and get it and watch it. Now. Go on.

OK, now I’ll assume you’re back and have watched This is England, blown away, aren’t you? If you’re American you almost certainly will be. We had film night get-togethers in my old neighbourhood in Manhattan last year and I showed a group of Americans that film. They didn’t know we had that sort of poverty, anger and racism in England. This has a similar feel – it seems to me to be made very much for the British market.

This story isn’t autobiographical, but it is inspired by things Considine saw as he was growing up in the working class Midlands. There’s lots of violence and unhappiness in this film. Joseph, and the viewer, have a first impression of Hannah that turns out to be wildly different from reality. She turns out to be not quite what she originally seems. The film is not fun to watch and there’s a couple of very sickening, violent scenes. It’s beautifully shot, though, and very well-told. Without giving too much away; bad things have happened to Hannah, and Joseph, on the face of things, is a bad man. But they find something good in each other and give each other support. There’s a big shock (well I didn’t see it coming) towards the end, and it doesn’t really have a happy ending.

Considine skilfully shows us Joseph’s complex character and Hannah’s grief and torture. Everyone involved with this film is incredible. I look forward to Considine’s next film.

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