PRO: Redemption for broken souls
Mullan gives a praiseworthy performance as embittered alcoholic Joseph, who is at turns revolting and pitiable. The real show stealer here, however, is Colman as a battered charity worker/love interest with demons of her own. In Hannah we can feel the quiet desperation of an average person who strives to remain decent while surrounded by blight and despair, and one can’t help empathising with her. Considine has drawn from real life experiences, and this is apparent in the chillingly realistic characterisations.
With all the violent imagery and none-too-saintly protagonists, the audience may think they have found themselves in some saturnine British hell, but the bleak environs are more purgatory than pit.
Hannah and Joseph struggle to come to terms with hatred and rage, but while the latter is clearly the catalyst of his own Sisyphean torment, one wonders what the former has done to deserve this. Both of them must pass through their own cleansing fires, and this journey is not without cathartic value.
Tyrannosaur is admittedly a grim movie. But those who are willing to sit through the brutality will be rewarded with a searing study of two wounded, broken souls gasping for redemption. It is in this striving that the film shines. DB
CON: Cheap misery porn masquerading as social realism
Tyrannosaur’s writer-director Considine is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Shane Meadows, the Tarantino of British social realism. This considered, one would have expected a lot more from his directorial debut, which is but a terrible imitation of films he himself starred in and co-authored.
The film is neither social nor realist; not a flaw in itself, if it weren’t for the fact it so desperately tries to be – its narrative, characters and settings are basically composites of the genre’s clichés.
The problem is that social status, ethnicity and religion here serve merely as props, playing absolutely no role in creating the characters, all of which are equally heinous.
The one virtuous person, the female protagonist, seems to be there for the sole purpose of suffering ever more sickening mistreatment. Violence and suffering as extreme as those on show here would be perfectly legitimate were they there to make a point, which Tyrannosaur is sorely lacking.
They are simply incidents of human barbarity, which, in compensation for their lack of expository or symbolic value, are smothered with melodrama.
The film school-y direction is no subtler than the script: incessant use of deep focus and overemphatic camerawork make sure to bludgeon the misery home. The rape of a semi-comatose woman by her own husband speaks for itself; its stylisation without purpose constitutes misery porn.
Tyrannosaur | Directed by Paddy Considine (UK 2010) with Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman. Starts October 13