Directed by Paddy Considine
Seemingly every character in Tyrannosaur, the quality feature directorial debut by British actor Paddy Considine (who also wrote the script), gets bruised and bloodied, and finds cause, usually after consuming a keg’s worth of lager, to foam at the mouth with rage. In the Leeds-set film’s opening frames, the widower protagonist, Joseph (Peter Mullan), stumbles out of a bar growling about some lost wager, and proceeds to beat his own dog to death—he buries it in his front yard, lest you think the man is completely irredeemable. Hannah (Olivia Colman), in whose thrift shop Joseph happens to take refuge one day while fleeing yet another bar fight of his own provoking, is a devout Christian from a nicer part of town who is nonetheless driven to drink for reasons of her own: Early in the film, her outwardly respectable husband (Eddie Marsan) returns home from a night out and promptly relieves himself on his wife, who has fallen asleep on the couch.
The U.K. tourism board must despair of this strain of realist wringer drama, describing as it does an entire landscape of unrelenting domestic misery, compounded by excesses of drink, prejudice, and profanity (notably, the C-word). (Mullan’s most recent film as a writer-director, NEDS, is another recent example of extreme kitchen-sink.) As it moves along, though, Tyrannosaur develops into something a little more unusual: a chaste romance of sorts. Joseph and Hannah’s relationship is to some degree redemptive for both of them, but, forgoing anything remotely saccharine, Considine mostly uses it as a means by which to examine his damaged characters with greater focus and sensitivity. Tyrannosaur stages a number of showcase meltdowns, but Mullan and Colman are most affecting when negotiating around each other during this brief intimacy. It’s a testament to Considine’s film that these quieter moments wind up making a deeper impression than those of brutish commotion.
Opens November 18