For better or for worse.
Tyrannosaur (2011) is British actor Paddy Considine‘s directorial debut. Tyrannosaur based on the 2007 BAFTA-winning film Dog Altogether, an Irish expression Considine’s father would use when things got tough–as it has in this movie. Scottish actor Peter Mullan stars as Joseph, a rage-filled alcoholic who’s only friends are his equally vulgar bar mates, develops a troubled relationship with Hannah (Olivia Colman), an abused homemaker who works at a charity store.
Straight away we are introduced to Joseph, fueled by rage, kicks his poor dog to death. It seems that immediately after that, carried the burden of what he had done throughout the film. You sense that Joseph didn’t like himself much or what he had become. Was he always this cruel in his life? You get that as well from his extreme outbursts, his sense of not wanting Samuel (Samuel Bottomley) the young boy, mistreated by his mother’s boyfriend and his dog, a pit bull he used as an extension of himself. There are a lot of damaged personalities in this film. Either circumstantial or due to inherent ill contempt for all things inherently good–Samuel seemed positioned as the beacon of light that motivated the good buried deep within Joseph–to show that he wasn’t all bad as a person.
Hannah still holds to her faith in God that her situation will get better. She meets Joseph when he storms into the Christian charity store where she worked. She offered to pray for him and in the cruelest way he knew how–told her of her belief in God, how the made up reality in her mind and her life just might be a little darker than she lets on. He was right. While for a moment there in the shop, it seemed that Hannah could help Joseph–save him from whatever demons that tormented him–but at home, her reality wasn’t much different. We are introduced to Hannah’s husband James (Eddie Marsan) rather bluntly–while she pretended to be asleep on the couch, he came in and pissed on her for what seemed like forever. She opened her eyes when he left the room. It was at that instant the viewing audience was introduced to his cruelty and will see more of it as the film progressed.
If you are going to make a movie as raw and depressing as Tyrannosaur, you better have the right actors with the ability to carry such powerful emotions their character roles and each demanded or provoked an emotional response from you–the neglectful mother of Samuel to the abusive tirades of Hannah’s husband, James. You are emotionally challenged to discover the hero in all this only to be disappointed when there are not and there are most certainly victims.
The most troubling aspect of this film was that you weren’t sure who’s side you are on. You are celebrating an emotional triumph one moment and the next reeling–Considine’s directional intention was to make this film as grim and as brutal as reality often is. The film isn’t perfect; there were a few too many scenes where there were long and intense closeups of the actors faces–as if he wanted you to face their unique inner evils dead on. However, it is also in those emotional moments you sense a genuine aura of each character’s human frailty.
We all may carry a demon somewhere inside us–maybe even as big as a tyrannosaur. Something hidden, buried deep within our memories waiting and at any moment, would tear out and destroy us. What the film successfully does depict–a depressingly tragic character study, of two very broken individuals.