I always try to avoid swearing in reviews. Then again, not every review is about Tyrannosaur, one of the best fucking movies I’ve seen in years. Tense, frightening, moving, and hopeful are some of the best words to describe the film. I’ve never cared so much about characters in a film before. There were moments where I wished that I could simply end the pain for everyone involved.
Peter Mullan stars as Joseph, a man with a troubled past and a serious problem controlling his anger. After a particularly nasty outburst, he rushes into a store owned by Hannah (Olivia Colman). Hannah attempts to comfort Joseph as he hides behind a rack of clothing, offering to pray for him. Despite Joseph’s attitude towards Hannah and her religious belief, the two slowly become friends. Over time, Joseph begins to realize that Hannah’s perfect life is only a facade, and that she may need even more help than he does.
The opening moments of the film are shocking as we witness Joseph’s anger problem. A very calm dispute with a clerk at a store causes Joseph to smash their front window. While enjoying a pint at the pub, he verbally abuses some kids playing pool until one of them threatens him. He lashes out physically, terrifying one of the kids after knocking another one of them out cold. Without knowing what to expect before going into the film, these scenes sent me to the edge of my seat. You’re never really sure when Joseph will explode again and with what level of anger. This is in sharp contrast with our introduction to Hannah. Here’s a woman that seems very happy, and offers to pray for Joseph when he runs into her store after assaulting the kids at the pub. This act of kindness brings Joseph to tears, but even that doesn’t crack his terrible attitude.
It would be easy to make Joseph out as the villain. He’s a bastard to just about everyone around him, with a violent streak that he can’t overcome. It’s his attempt to actually defeat his anger problem that causes him to become such an amazing character. You know that he’s a good person, and it hurts to see him struggle with his anger, even if you’re left in fear waiting for his next episode. Hannah and Joseph become a bit closer, but it doesn’t stop Joseph from insulting Hannah at every chance. With her belief in God, and the rather fancy area that she lives in, Joseph assumes she must live the perfect life. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Hannah may be even more damaged than Joseph. Her marriage is rocky, testing her patience and her faith. The two characters are really different sides of the same coin. Joseph can’t stop releasing his anger while Hannah is unable to release hers at all. Somewhere in the middle is the balance that both characters need. Our only hope is that they can find strength in each other so they can reach that goal. Obviously this is a very heavy film. There are few moments of true happiness for the characters, and the emotions the film will stir in the viewer can frequently be uncomfortable. It’s worth the journey though, as Mullan and Colman deliver stunning performances.
Playing Hannah’s husband James is Eddie Marsan. His role is easily the most disturbing of the film. Just his very appearance onscreen can cause your skin to crawl. If this film needs a villain, it’s James. Maybe that’s what is so frightening about Tyrannosaur though. There isn’t really a good guy or a bad guy, only people, the kind of people that exist in our world. It’s the truth behind the characters that makes the film so hard to watch. The reality that these people exist in our world can be hard to accept. This is the first feature film from writer/director Paddy Considine. While better known for his acting talent, Considine has delivered an incredible film with Tyrannosaur. I only hope there is more directing in his future.
I couldn’t recommend this one any more. It’s not a very feel good film and may be hard to watch for some viewers, but everyone should give it a chance. Never has a film broken my heart like this. It’s so incredibly powerful and moving, and will certainly leave a lasting impression with you. An explanation can’t possibly do this film any justice, it’s something that has to be experienced. From start to finish, not one moment of the film is wasted. This is probably one of the most perfect movies I’ve ever watched, even if it is a bit hard to get through.
Under the marquee – Will