Tyrannosaur

Sarah Ward

BIFF: This directorial debut from actor Paddy Considine depicts a redemptive friendship between two people who, each in their own way, have hit rock bottom.
Tyrannosaur
Many have endeavoured to make the journey from in front of the camera to behind it, from greats Clint Eastwood and Ron Howard, to challengers George Clooney and Ben Affleck. Joining the long list of thespians to have tried their hand at helming, acclaimed English actor Paddy Considine expands upon an impressive career by demonstrating his skill in the director’s chair. After writing Shane Meadows’ Dead Man’s Shoes, and shooting the short Dog Together, Considine now attempts his first full-length feature. A visceral exploration of the impact of violence, Tyrannosaur exposes the underside of British poverty.

Best suited to his own company, Joseph (Peter Mullan, Neds) seeks solace at the bottom of a bottle, with his faithful canine his only offsider. When a drunken outburst destroys even that relationship, Joseph is inspired to alter his behaviour, forging a bond with a local charity shop worker. Although the kindly Hannah (Olivia Colman, The Iron Lady) nurtures the friendship, her benevolence masks hidden pain. Suffering in a strained marriage to the unpleasant James (Eddie Marsan, Sherlock Holmes), she struggles in silence, until her new companion elicits change.

With a versatile cinematic catalogue that includes 24 Hour Party People, In America, Hot Fuzz, and The Bourne Ultimatum, Considine is renowned for his on-screen prowess. Based on the merits of his brave and brutal directorial debut, he deserves to be known for his filmmaking skills as well, for Tyrannosaur is a polished, powerful feature.

Re-teaming with the familiar faces of former co-stars Colman (Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee), Mullan and Marsan (The Red Riding Trilogy), the actor turned director examines the interaction of two people cast into the roles of villain and victim in their own lives. However, those bounds are transcended as the lost souls find a connection, with the uncompromising yet commanding feature exploring the truth and tragedy that lies behind the constructed facade of even the most imposing and innocuous of people.

Boasting Mullan at his magnetic, measured best as the afflicted aggressor, and Colman conveying both tenderness and toughness as the tortured target, the film rests on their portrayals, as Considine inspires his cast to haunting yet heartfelt performances. Their combined efforts comprise a harrowing portrait of the problems of ordinary Britons, as well as a hopeful message of the resilience of the human spirit, with Tyrannosaur being compelling, confronting, contemplative and even – unexpectedly – cathartic.

Rating: Four stars

< i>Tyrannosaur
Director: Paddy Considine
Cast: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan
UK, 2011, 91 min

Brisbane International Film Festival
November 3 – 13

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Sarah Ward is a freelance film critic, arts and culture writer, and film festival organiser. She is the Australia-based critic for Screen International, a film reviewer and writer for ArtsHub, the weekend editor and a senior writer for Concrete Playground, a writer for the Goethe-Institut Australien’s Kino in Oz, and a contributor to SBS, SBS Movies and Flicks Australia. Her work has been published by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Junkee, FilmInk, Birth.Movies.Death, Lumina, Senses of Cinema, Broadsheet, Televised Revolution, Metro Magazine, Screen Education and the World Film Locations book series. She is also the editor of Trespass Magazine, a film and TV critic for ABC radio Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, and has worked with the Brisbane International Film Festival, Queensland Film Festival, Sydney Underground Film Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival. Follow her on Twitter: @swardplay