Tyrannosaur | Film review
For his directorial debut, Paddy Considine transfers his angry Englishman routine to Peter Mullan.
There’s a new master of miserablism, and his name is Paddy Considine. Perhaps you remember the bloke; he was the sullen, angry Englishman in My Summer of Love and the psychotic, angry Englishman in Dead Man’s Shoes. (See In America for a kinder, gentler distillation of the Brit’s intensity.) With Tyrannosaur, Considine steps behind the camera, but the volcanic rage and chronic despondency of his acting remain intact—he’s just channeled them into a new vessel.
Peter Mullan, who resembles Bryan Cranston after ten years in the gutter, plays our seething, alcoholic, half-mad hero. How far gone is this monster of a man? In the opening scene, he kicks his own dog to death. That may be the character’s low point, but Tyrannosaur itself—a Paul Schrader imploding-man character study relocated to one of Mike Leigh’s working-class purgatories—has deeper depths to plumb.
A tornado of self-destruction, Mullan’s Joe eventually barrels into the life of Hannah (Olivia Colman of Peep Show), a kindly Christian shopkeeper whose husband (Happy-Go-Lucky’s Eddie Marsan) likes to knock her around when he’s feeling jealous and literally piss on her when he’s being malicious. Considine teases us with the redemptive possibilities of their fledgling friendship, only to drag us further down into his storm drain of cinematic masochism. (It’s telling that the film’s most lighthearted moments occur at a funeral.) Mullan and Colman are both tremendous, but they’re swallowed whole by a sea of bile.