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  • Writer's pictureSteve

Tyrannosaur (2011)

So, anyway, welcome to Leeds. Glorious, shiny beacon of the north. Paddy Considine's first foray into feature length directing is a true marker. One that he will struggle to better. One man's story of self-destructive rage in a world that doesn't really give a shit mostly, and on some occasions, actually takes pleasure in kicking him when he is already down. He probably deserves it though, if we're honest.

"I prayed for you last night, y'know."

"It didn't fucking work then, did it."

Peter Mullan (War Horse) plays widowed Joseph, an aging, bewilderingly violent man, angry at everything, without anything positive to vent his frustrations. His time is spent between pub to spend, and post office to pick up, his money. Whilst alcohol doesn't seem to run his life, it is his crutch and seemingly the reason for most of his behaviour. It is a rare thing indeed to come across a character that you can meet every day on the street where you live, but Mullan's Joseph is uncannily reminiscent of all of those people you would cross the road to avoid. His handle on Joseph is vice-like and complete. He is immensely irate at the world and himself.

Escaping from a pub brawl, he accidentally bumps into maternally desolate god-botherer Hannah, by hiding in her charity shop. She is played deftly by Olivia Colman (The Iron Lady). She has more problems than just not being able to have children. She also has a very uncomfortable relationship with her husband James, played by Eddie Marsan with a confident, quiet, brooding menace.

The story, all told, is a simple one of domestic violence, social dysfunction and a reaction of these characters to the state of the immediate world around them, as they know little else. It is a tense affair throughout, accurately portraying the underbelly of an urban sprawl that has largely been ignored by everyone that isn't forced to spend time there.

Considine's grasp of the material is commendable (it should be, he also wrote the screenplay) and his gritty version of inner city northern life is well considered. If you imagine a feature length episode of Shameless, set in Leeds, where the characters are just as unpleasant, but lack any comedic substance to raise the soul, then you are getting close to Tyrannosaur's mood and defiant stance.

There are some lighter moments, but they are admittedly fleeting. Considine does bring seconds of joy, before plunging the viewer back into the mire once more. The script is outstanding, hinting at stories that go unquestioned, revealing others that you never knew you wanted or needed to know. The film is punctuated by several moments of clarity and it is here where Joseph and Hannah truly shine.

There is a popular movement afoot that would suggest that all urban British films are Noel Clarke produced, or at the very least inspired, Adulthood clones featuring council decay and forgotten youth. Another first time Director, Joe Cornish decided to approach this very topic with his own debut film, poking slightly more fun at the genre quite successfully with Attack The Block, though with less critical success than Considine's effort here and this is further evidence, should it be needed, that there is much more to urban British film than hoodies and social anarchy.

Brilliant performances by all concerned, some great location work, a tidy, no-nonsense script, amazing direction, not least considering Considine's limited experience all make this a very worthy film indeed. Recommended for everyone over 18.


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