Tyrannosaur review

Plaudits to writer-director Considine – the gifted actor has crafted a searing drama that cuts through to the bone. It leaves you beaten but beguiled and the acting is sublime. One can't fault the players in any way. They're simply brilliant. Mullan and Coleman are the leads, and their impassioned performances, full of depth and despair, are achingly convincing. It's a bleak tale with miserable characters you'd never want to be within a mile of, but it's utterly absorbing, grabbing you by the throat and throttling you with its power.

Mullan plays violent Joseph, a Scot with a huge chip on his shoulder and a heavy drinking problem, roughing up youths in a pub for example or smashing post office windows when in an angry rage. A widower who lives on his own and is unemployed, he meets God fearing Hannah (Coleman), a distinctly troubled woman who looks to the Lord for salvation. She works in a charity shop and over time they strike up a curious friendship. Especially when it transpires that her homelife isn't quite what it appears to be. The loving relationship she has with her jealous husband (Marsan) isn't loving at all. In fact, it's a total nightmare. Can Joseph help her out of it? Does he want to?

The dynamics between the characters are so gripping that one can only marvel at how well Considine has marshalled his actors and drawn from them such breathtakingly good portrayals. Marsan has relatively little screen time but by God does he make his scenes count and Coleman is outstanding, a remarkable semblance of a woman at her wits end, desperately trying to cover up the turmoil raging inside her. Mullan partners her splendidly, suggesting that he cares about her but without the subtle tools to display it forthrightly. They play off each other superbly and deserve accolades galore.

This is one of the best acted movies of the year - tough and uncompromising, but with a heart lurking underneath to give one hope. Though the script and protagonists may appear depressing it's actually an enormously rewarding experience overall and one that shouldn't be missed if you're prepared to gird your loins and be brave. It certainly puts you through the wringer and is no date movie, but that's no bad thing. Kudos to Considine and co for having the balls, temerity and confidence for doing so. Excellent.

Tyrannosaur at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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