Written by Georgie Hobbs
02 Sunday 02nd October 2011

There are events and performances so disturbingly real, you’re dumb struck, mouth agape. You’ll think: “OK, well, I survived that, the rest of the film will be a doddle...” Not so. Tyrannosaur has an unpredictable plot that sneaks up on you at every turn, inverting character assumptions and sucker punching you with sheer brutalism.

Peter Mullan (star of My Name is Joe - to which this film owes considerable debt) plays Joseph, a wizened widower consumed by self-loathing and a raging beer habit. That’s not how he’d describe himself. He’d just say he was a cunt. He’d be half right. One night, with too much brew in his belly, Joseph kicks off the action (literally) by smashing in his pet dog’s ribs. He’s immediately sorry but the damage is done. The next day he buries the pup in his garden before heading back to the pub for another day of drink-induced abuse.

Alone in the world, Joseph eventually shelters behind a rack in a charity shop, where he meets Hannah (an incredible, raw performance from Peep Show’s Olivia Colman). Joseph assumes that because she speaks “proper”, lives on the right side of town and has time to volunteer on behalf of a charity, Hannah must be doing alright. But this is a film in which the most sentimental scene sees Joseph admit he taunted his obese, disabled wife by calling her the “Tyrannosaur from Jurassic Park” (so fat that she shook drinks when she moved). So, no Hannah’s not alright , she is a closet alcoholic stuck in a hellish abusive marriage. She fears no one will believe that her husband (a terrifying Eddie Marsan) submits her to frequent violent attacks; after all, posh women who work in charity shops don’t have problems, do they?

Slowly Hannah and Joseph find a creaky kind of redemption in each other but not before they see a lot of casualties, human and animal, along the way. “People are cruel”, Considine seems to be saying; “good luck”. He’s made a modern tragedy that viscerally demonstrates how easy it is to ignore the people who need our help most. And if that sounds worthy, the film is not. In an age where ‘nothing is shocking’, this film makes you think again. And again.

Tyrannosaur is out in cinemas nationwide this Friday (October 7th 2011)

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