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.