Tyrannosaur - Blu-ray Review

'the extreme scenes stack up, heavyweight baggage in a film which excepts pressure on its audience minute-by-minute'

There are two juxtaposed scenes in Tyrannosaur which sum up a large part of the reasons why it works so well. Depressed and angry Joseph (Peter Mullan) heads to a fairly grubby pub and orders a pint, sitting down with the morose look of a lonely drinker. Meanwhile, repressed and abused Hannah (Olivia Colman) heads to an affluent-looking house on a prim estate and pours a glass of wine, sitting down with the morose look of a lonely drinker.

Tyrannosaur fits into the 'social realism' sub-genre but it works because it does so whilst avoiding the clichés of inner city hearts of gold and outer city perfect lives. Hannah is, in her own way, just as damaged as Joseph, but where he hides it in lager from working men's clubs, she hides it behind double glazing and automatic garage doors. In a lesser film - one not helmed by Paddy Considine, clearly as much, if not more, of a talent behind the camera as he is in front of it - Hannah would be a best-intentions shop owner, who helps Joseph to see the error of his ways in a one-dimensional role that never goes anywhere.

Instead, Considine explores both characters more or less equally, and does so with a willingness to go everywhere, including - cliché alert - to places much darker than your average piece of 'social realism'. When we arrive there, in scenes, situations and instances that will shock and disgust, the director again shows an ingrained talent of honest presentation. In another film these scenes would feel like extreme emotional release; unpleasant but a lift from the brooding. In Tyrannosaur they stack up, heavyweight baggage in a film which excepts pressure on its audience minute-by-minute, an on-coming train travelling at slow speeds, your legs glued to the track, helpless.

That suggests that Tyrannosaur is a difficult watch and it would be dishonest to say it is not. Abuse is a difficult subject and Considine forces us to confront it and then forces us to confront it some more. There is, finally, some release come the end of the film, but you will have to work to get there.

Equally though, there is pleasure here in watching experts work. The worn, flawed, Joseph and the fledgling escapee Hannah are perfectly portrayed by Mullan and Colman, the latter peeling back layers of Hannah's repression at the hands of James (Eddie Marsan), like a patient child unwrapping a Christmas present.

And there's also pleasure in seeing a genre getting a thoroughly needed and deserved shake-up from an exciting new talent in the shape of Considine. Social realism: come in, your time is up.



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