Joseph (Peter Mullan) is a mess. He's a scary man who kicks his own dog to death in the early minutes of the film, written and directed by respected actor Paddy Considine (In America). The Yorkshire-set tale doesn't dismiss Joseph, though I suspect a few readers may have after the sentence about the dog.
The story focuses on the unlikely relationship that builds between hot-tempered Joseph and Hannah (Olivia Colman), the soft-spoken proprietor of a consignment shop. When Joseph takes refuge at her store, she offers to pray for the intruder. Joseph responds foully, but returns to the shop the next time he is in trouble, and eventually he begins to temper his temper in her presence.
Alas, life is not as simple as it seems for Hannah. She lives in fear of her abusive husband, played by the great Eddie Marsan (the angry driving instructor in Happy-Go-Lucky).
The acting is outstanding, especially by the leads, and the characters are rich and interesting. The dialogue, however, ranges from insightful to trite. At times, I wondered if this film - the second movie about a self-destructive man I had watched in the space of two days - was really necessary. But something about gritty, downbeat British character studies draws me.
Be prepared for accents that become challenging to decipher at times. Be prepared for a story that doesn't go where you expect it to go. Paddy Considine is a promising writer and director, but the film is clearly the work of a man growing into his new roles. He knows how to make you care for his characters, but he struggles with what to do with them other than come up with different ways to make their lives awful. There is hope in Tyrannosaur, but not the kind that will send you out of the theater feeling better about life. I liked the film well enough, but then, I'm a fan of Arab Strap and other musicians and writers who have been labeled miserablists. If you enjoy the occasional walk on the dark side, Tyrannosaur is a flawed, but compelling experience. Others should tread cautiously.