Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Cannes Review: Gaspar Noé's Hardcore And Softhearted 'Love' Cannes Review: Gaspar Noé's Hardcore And Softhearted 'Love' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Cannes Review: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 'The Assassin' Is An Epic Visual Poem Cannes Review: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 'The Assassin' Is An Epic Visual Poem The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season 10 Movies Booed At Cannes 10 Movies Booed At Cannes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Review: 'Tyrannosaur' Gets To The Heart Of Perseverance In The Face Of Brutality

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist November 17, 2011 at 10:20AM

Review: 'Tyrannosaur' Gets To The Heart Of Perseverance In The Face Of Brutality
4
Peter Mullan Tyrannosaur

Within the very first minute of “Tyrannosaur,” the new film from Paddy Considine, a dog is brutally beat to death. So begins a gauntlet of torture and demeaning cruelty that lasts up until the twenty minute mark, when a dutiful wife passes out on her couch, and her husband enters and drunkenly urinates on her. Apparently the title “Another Happy Day” was taken.

The dog-killer in question is Joseph, down-and-out in the slums of Yorkshire, who hasn’t been able to emerge from his drunken stupor since the passing of his wife. However, there are hints throughout that this wasn’t exactly much of a romantic union. Joseph has a reasonable, health-related explanation for her passing, but the fact he totes a baseball bat around with him from time to time casts doubt.

Tyrannosaur Peter Mullan

When we see Joseph stumble out of the pub at the start of “Tyrannosaur,” it’s got the stink of routine; less familiar behaviour is when he shares time with Hannah, who runs a knick-knack thrift shop on the edge of town. Hannah, a dowdy, conservative type, doesn’t humor him so much as withstand being in his claws. She has compassion for his unfocused rage and the look of recognition that crosses her face when Joseph cruelly responds to her platitudes suggests she’ herself has confronted similar monsters.

We soon learn she may actually live with one. James is a pigheaded bull, a snarling, angry little man with twinkly sweet eyes and a soft voice that soon turns abusive. James is also married to Hannah, which means his ferocious, petty brutality has an outlet. He speaks softly and curtly, and seems to regard his marriage as one of convenience, specifically his own. When she won’t participate in sex, he’ll either demean her or take it for himself, silencing her protestations with a bout of violence.

Olivia Colman Tyrannosaur

“Tyrannosaur” mostly plays like a kitchen-sink drama, but when the ferocity of Joseph and James bubbles over, you can’t help but anticipate the clash. This is dank social realism, extras with yellowed teeth, bar rooms choked with cigarette smoke, and yet you can’t but wonder how and when these two beasts will lock horns, kaiju style. James’ nastiness stems from having a target, but Joseph’s is more organic, more genuine.

What “Tyrannosaur” does so well is it embodies Yorkshire as a plucky, angry character -- every scene features the cackling of a rebellious teen, and there’s always the fear that one of them will be waiting around the corner, brick in hand. But its narrative also gives a twofold payoff: the slums where Joseph resides are quite different, and far more dangerous than the rainy outskirts where Hannah works the counter. But to see Hannah’s quaint suburban living situation, which earns Joseph’s sneer, is to see an elegant cover for a thoroughly unpleasant living situation.

Eddie Marsan Tyrannosaur

However, the film crescendos in an entirely unpredictable manner, and first-time director Paddy Considine side-steps the cheap audience release of a showdown in favor of an intriguing subversion of social realist dramas built upon broken relationships. “Tyrannosaur,” which earns its title from a cruel name Joseph would call his wife, centers on that difficulty, that temptation to deal with conflict in violence, and how it frays our relationships. Considine can’t help but make the third-act rookie mistake of doubling-up on the tragedy, and there’s one specific character for whom merely turning towards the camera botches a graceful dramatic beat.

But as Joseph, Peter Mullan is a dragon, a bubbling cauldron of dangerousness, spitting out resentment and rage in a way that suggests a strange self-awareness. An early moment when Joseph buries himself under a discount wardrobe suggests what we know about the fear in his eyes. As James, Eddie Marsan isn’t nearly as intimidating, and there are small moments during his most violent scenes where a well-placed flinch tells you everything you need to know about his ugliness. But it’s Olivia Colman who represents the heart of “Tyrannosaur.” As put-upon Hannah, she radiates warmth and understanding, and it’s only through the strength of her character that we understand her subtle evolution, from healing, to merely surviving. In the face of the beast, “Tyrannosaur” argues, the latter can be more difficult than the former. [A-]

This article is related to: Review, Paddy Considine, Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan, Reviews, Tyrannosaur


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates