Friday, May 4, 2012
A Film Like a Migraine, But One You Can Appreciate
Written and directed by: Paddy Considine
Starring: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan, Paul Popplewell, Ned Dennehy, Samuel Bottomley, Sally Carman, Sian Breckin.
Running time: 92 min.
This film will be released on DVD by Madman Entertainment on June 14th in New Zealand.
Let me be straightforward from the get-go: Tyrannosaur is not a feel good movie. It is not the kind that one can easily crack the faintest of smiles at. I've heard it said many times before that the cheeriest scene in this movie is a funeral scene. Which is absolutely true. This film is exactly like a cracking migraine. It crushes your brain for the entire time, leaving you completely still and transfixed on the screen as if the slightest movement could make the migraine worse. Your eyes are forced to see things they don't want to see, and they want to shift out of focus so that things don't turn out so bad. While the film is heaving this mass amount of pressure onto your head that ensures the most uncomfortable viewing ever, it rips your heart out and holds it in this dark cube, where happiness is about ten planets away. Tyrannosaur may be capable of all of those different, horrible feelings, but I can promise that it is a very good film. It isn't the kind that you can easily sum up as being a "film that I enjoyed". It is a film that I "endured and appreciated".
Despite the title, this film isn't about dinosaurs. Instead, it starts with Joseph (Peter Mullan), a man with a violent heart, who kicks his dog to death outside a bar. After this fatal fit of rage he feels remorseful for what he did, realising that he has killed his only friend. He's a man searching for a companion, but ultimately letting his violent side take hold more often than not. However, he comes across Christian charity shop worker Hannah (Olivia Colman), who he sees as his only chance of redemption. On the outside, Hannah appears to live a very comfortable life with a nice house and a nice car, and also a fairly successful husband, James (Eddie Marsan). However, on the inside she lives a very troubled life, which is mostly because of her husband, who also has violent tendencies like Joseph. She forms an uneasy bond with Joseph, though, and while he is trying to let his violent heart fade away, the uncovering of Hannah's reality threatens to have a resounding effect on everyone involved.
Paddy Considine's feature directorial debut, based on his BAFTA winning short film Dog Altogether, is one that packs one hell of a punch - right in the gut, where it hurts the most. The content is not for the faint-hearted: there's killing of animals, a disturbing rape scene and a ton of disgusting and vulgar behaviour towards women and children. Basically, it is an unfortunately grisly reality brought to the fore, which most people don't want to see on screen. New Zealand is one of the worst developed countries for domestic violence, which was shown in screen by a 1994 film called Once Were Warriors. Tyrannosaur very much reminded me of Britain's answer to that film, rendering the exact same emotions out of me that the traumatised 13 year old me witnessed in 2008. Both films were made with the intention of not softening anything up, not offering any sentimentality and least of all, any hope. They were straight-forward in depicting the violence and misogyny that has a way of taking over someone's sense of being. Considine directs his film with blood-curdling simplicity, never looking at the 'big picture', but focussing on the anger inside his characters. It is here that you see the cracks and the flaws. It may be a dark film, but the product isn't all black-and-white. This film is rich with the colours that make a human being unleash violence upon another human being. Colours that we wish we couldn't see, but are there as cruel reminders of how low people can really go.
Tyrannosaur would be nothing without the amazing performances from Mullan, Colman and Marsan. Mullan has always been an great screen presence, but he really shines in the lead role. He plays Joseph with frightening intensity, shown from the first scene with that shocking act. He just has to give one look, and you know that he isn't the kind of man who would rather talk out his problems. He's the kind that you wouldn't want to be around, since he wouldn't hesitate to use anything around him as a weapon. Still, despite the fact that he uses violence as a bubble, you can tell that there's a fractured soul seeking redemption inside of him, which was brought to magnificent life by Mullan. Marsan also plays a man who is plagued by a violent heart, but his version of violence is a way of feeling empowered, especially over his wife. After this film, I can't look at Marsan in the same way. His presence in this sickened me, literally to the point where I was almost about to throw up. But it was Colman, whose Hannah was at the centre of the film battling with Joseph and James' violent tendencies, who shone the most. You may have heard many people crying snub over Colman's omission from the BAFTA's. I can tell you, she should have won the Oscar for Best Actress. Where Meryl Streep won points for her outstanding mimicry of Margaret Thatcher, Colman matched her efforts with an intense bravery and ability to show a woman pushed to the edge without over-doing it. Her performance was stunning; nothing short of heart-wrenching, especially when she reaches boiling point.
The only niggle I really had with the movie was the end, which didn't offer the impact that the rest of the film did. It kind of just...seemed like someone throwing a bucket of water on a fire so it would go out really quickly. Otherwise, Tyrannosaur is a really good, sometimes great debut by Paddy Considine, who might just become one of the big names in directing. Just don't expect to enjoy this film. You may wanna take a panadol straight after.
What I got: