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Tyrannosaur

Title: 
Tyrannosaur
Year: 
2011
Film Format: 
dvd
Director: 
Considine, Paddy
Language: 
English
Country: 
Britain
Actors: 
Peter Mullan
Actors: 
Olivia Coleman
Actors: 
Eddie Marsan
Film Reviews: 

Such self-evident seriousness risks bathos if the storytelling isn’t up to the task, but Considine (here expanding his BAFTA-winning 2007 short Dog Altogether) proves equal to the challenge he’s set himself – of humanising a central character who’s introduced giving his own dog a fatal stomping. Even at this early juncture, a journey towards redemption seems on the cards for Mullan’s human powder keg, yet Considine’s script never makes this a foregone conclusion, in part because the catalyst for change is an encounter with Olivia Colman’s charity-shop assistant, whose own horrendous experience of domestic abuse affords Mullan a window of self-knowledge on his previous marital misdeeds.Her husband James (Eddie Marsan), seeming to all and sundry the ideal bourgeois provider but secretly a vicious bully, and Mullan’s Joseph, whose upfront aggression is an open book, present different aspects of the weak man overcompensating through domestic oppression; the latter’s nickname for his solidly built late spouse – ‘tyrannosaur’, because her approach, he says, made the crockery shake like something from Jurassic Park – nails a fundamental lack of empathy, a sense of objectification, as the root cause of such violence.
For all the pained concentration on masculinity’s shadowy hinterlands, however, it’s Colman’s brave, affecting and always in-the-moment performance that draws us in, allowing us to understand the sufferings of those women who find themselves on the receiving end with nowhere else to go, and complex enough to suggest a fearsome self-preservation which eventually bonds her with Mullan’s battle-scarred survivor.
One moment stands out: battered and only just holding it together in the back of the charity shop, she snaps right back into superficial sweetness and light at the counter when a customer arrives at this worst possible moment. Considine knows it’s the sing-songy tone of her voice that’s the emotional killer, and keeps the camera in the back room, prime evidence of a genuinely sensitive directorial touch.
Not without its flaws, Tyrannosaur is an auspicious start, and if Considine gains confidence from it, even better may lie ahead.
[Sight and Sound]

Date Arrival: 
6 February 2012

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