Monday, December 12, 2011

Tyrannosaur ***

Director: Paddy Considine
Cast: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan
Samuel Bottomley, Paul Popplewell, Sian Breckin, Ned Dennehy

Paddy Considine's directorial debut is a gripping account of loss and redemption, elevated by two masterful performances from Olivia Colman and Peter Mullan. The film opens with a bang as we see Joseph (Mullan) completely inebriated kill his dog in a moment of rage. The scene's immeasurable cruelty becomes only more poignant when we see its immediate bookend, as Joseph digs a grave and buries his pet.
This event sends him down the path of sorrow as he actively tries to find a way to become a better person. If you're thinking Happy-Go-Lucky think again.
Joseph's path isn't sunshine and rainbows, given that he harbors a dark past that involved his dead wife and his alcoholism. The film's miserabilism seems to find an absolution when Joseph meets Hannah (Colman) a kind thrift-shop owner who speaks of god and offers him a helping hand.
At first Joseph is repelled by Hannah's goodness but soon they become forever linked by a shattering event that gives the film a new meaning.
Tyrannosaur isn't merely about finding forgiveness, it's a sad tale about how life pushes people to situations that make them forget who they are. Considine expertly highlights each of the characters' traits only to pull the rug from under us and reveal that they in fact are not as contrasting as we think, they are not some sort of "opposites attracting" situation; they are but different sides of the same coin.
The film is marked by its use of extreme, often unexpected, violence but the director doesn't seem to be trying to coerce us into states of complete shock or disgust. His use of violence, as gimmicky as it looks sometimes, is but a comparative layer to his story because the characters' inner life is sometimes even more upsetting than what they do.
For instance just as we think we're getting an idea of who Hannah is we discover she lives with an abusive husband (Marsan), who not only forces himself on her sexually but greets her by urinating all over her (the following scene where she cleans up the urine is devastating).
Regardless of what the plot suggests, Tyrannosaur never turns into a pity fest. We gain certain sympathy for the characters but they are so damaged that we try hard never to empathize with them. Mullan in particular turns in a performance that could've easily fallen into caricature, instead he turns Joseph into a brokenhearted man who has lost all power over his wrath.
Colman inversely has a face you want to see smile, her sad Hannah often makes us wish she would toughen up a bit and become more like Joseph. This is where Considine's movie grabs us making us wish we never have to experience what we're seeing onscreen.

1 comment:

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