Paddy Considine is one of Britain’s best actors but will the release of his debut feature, Tyrannosaur, see him on the road to becoming one of our best directors? The short answer is undoubtably yes.
Based on his BAFTA award winning short film Dog Altogether, Tyrannosaur is an extremely powerful yet beautiful film, which manages to be both shocking and heartwarming without being provocative or cutesy.
The film focuses on the relationship between Joseph (Peter Mullan), a man most would dismiss as the local nut case, and Hannah (Olivia Colman), a devout Christian and volunteer at the local charity shop who lives in the nice part of town. After taking out a bad loss at the bookies on his pet dog, Joseph tries to find some solace in Hannah’s shop and she attempts to comfort him with prayer as he hides behind a rack of second hand clothes.
Joseph continues to frequent Hannah’s shop and despite repeatedly belittling her the two start to form a bond because they are both effectively alone in the world; the only person who talks to Joseph is Sam (Samuel Bottomley), an eight year old boy who lives over the road and to say that Hannah’s husband James (Eddie Marsan) is abusive is putting it extremely mildly. Their relationship ebbs and flows as a result of Peter’s bouts of self-destruction and Hannah’s inability to stand up to James, but it quickly becomes apparent to both of them that without the other in their lives there is no point to their existence.
As I mentioned earlier, Tyrannosaur is a very real and very raw ninety minutes of cinema and it rightfully deserves it’s 18 certificate; the language is exactly what you’d expect to hear on any Northern council estate and Hannah’s abuse at the hands of James is one of the most harrowing things you’ll see in a cinema this year, if not ever.
Considine has drawn influences from his past, admitting that Joseph’s love of dogs over his fellow human beings is a trait shared with his father, whilst also drawing from real life experiences that took place on the Leeds estate where the film was shot. It’s these experiences and influences that make Tyrannosaur as powerful as it is because these people and places exist up and down the country; they are real and most importantly, utterly believable, just like the film.
As good as the story and the direction is, Tyrannosaur would be nothing without it’s stellar cast, with both Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman returning to their respective roles from Dog Altogether. This is a both a brave and interesting move on Paddy’s part; whilst Mullan is the go to guy for angry loners, Colman is somewhat of an unknown quantity. However, her performance as Hannah is nothing short of a revelation, proving that she is more than just a mainstay of many a sitcom and sketch show and chewing the set to buggery. Equally good is Peter Mullan, whose face is a story unto itself, who despite being both compassionate and funny quickly and repeatedly reminds us he is a horrible human being and a cunt.
The supporting cast is equally as good, each actor nailing their character perfectly. Samuel Bottomley, who plays Joseph’s tiny pal, is the innocent flower growing out of the pot of shit that is his street and he brings a lot of warmth to a small but vital role. Eddie Marsan is really top drawer as abusive husband James and is brilliant in both his true, violent form and his “good husband” turn.
Tyrannosaur represents an incredibly strong and confident directorial debut from Considine, though whilst he says he’d liked to continue acting it’ll be interesting to see which career path he choses in the long run. Either way, it’s bound to result in magnificent films.
Tyrannosaur is on release from 7th October.