Review: Tyrannosaur – Paddy Considine

Shane Meadows’ Dead Man’s Shoes co-writer and idiosyncratic British actor, Paddy Considine makes his feature film debut, writing and directing Tyrannosaur.

If you thought Meadow’s Brit grit was grim and gritty enough, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Alone in the world and caught up in a storm of rage, the film opens with a past-his-prime alcoholic, Joseph, kicking in his yelping dog’s ribcage.

Tyrannosaur doesn’t ever get any less harrowing: tackling racism, domestic abuse, rape, death, an angry fat man, a dog mauling a child, another murdered dog. Considine may have gone a little too far with harrowing the hell out of his audience –I say that not because it’s overbearing, but because it could’ve had more emotional weight to throw with more precision in its depiction of trauma.

Nonetheless, the exceptional performance from Olivia Colman (Grow Your Own, Peep Show) as an abused suburban wife gives it those choking moments that make British drama. It’s not a classic kitchen sink – but what truly is past the 60s? Nonetheless, it’s a visceral depiction of the grimmest corners of British life all condensed into the same 2-hour space. It’s enough to induce a dark, bitter, rainy-day style coma.

For some, Tyrannosaur is obviously just too much. In what he I’m sure thinks is a witty tagline, O’Neill criticised it as, “Tyrannosaur: a toilet-bowl drama to titillate the chattering classes” (Telegraph). See what he did there? ha. So it doesn’t have a mainstream release – and that’s not because toffs want to titillate about it – it’s because to most the cinema is an escapist multiplex and no one wants to take their kids to watch the kind of film that Film4 save for the post-post-watershed.

Another critic also slated it on the basis that “It veered into the territory of misery tourism (and misandry): a film that will only show to middle-class audiences, asking us to come and look at how bestial people on estates live” (Hayne, Observer). It seems a skewed perception to think that Tyrannosaur is a circus ring for council estate savagery when half the film is set on middle class new-build estate; I would imagine this is the voice of a self-conscious viewer who thinks they should be keeping their nose out of society more than anything.

Intense performances, relationships that reflect humanity, well-done camerawork, good scripting, narrative a little over the top at times (see severed dog head): but overall a sterling first feature film effort by Considine.

Tyrannosaur, dir. Paddy Considine (2011, UK)

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