Tyrannosaur opens with a dog death and just gets bleaker from there. The violent and angry Joseph (Peter Mullan) meets the kind-hearted Hannah (Olivia Colman) and the two strike up a friendship of sorts, while their community and lives crumble all around them.
The talent on display is outstanding, most notably from Paddy Considine who writes and directs this fearless debut. As if it wasn’t enough that he’s a great dramatic and comic actor, as well as being an all-round lovely man. No one is that brilliant, there must be something wrong with him, like one of his legs is slightly shorter than the other or something. Talking of impossibly talented people, I love Olivia Colman. She breaks your heart in dramatic roles and wins it over in comedic ones, and here she’s at her heart-wrenching best. Peter Mullan is excellent too, initially seeming completely irredeemable but gaining our total sympathy over 90 minutes. There’s also a chilling turn from Eddie Marsan and a welcome appearance from Shameless’ Sally Carman.
Considine takes clear inspiration from his frequent collaborator Shane Meadows and other great directors of British realism, making Tyrannosaur a gritty, stark and harrowing drama which glues your eyes to the screen even when you want to look away. The bleak atmosphere and grey setting is illuminated by the incredible performers and their realistic characters. Colman and Mullan play two very different but equally broken individuals, who need each other for sanctuary and redemption. It’s brutally grim and hard to watch, but grounded in compassion and completely human, thanks mainly to Colman’s compelling presence. This 2011 drama is another impressive picture from Sheffield’s Warp Films, a devastating story about humans, dogs and monsters. Tyrannosaur is a bold and visceral piece of filmmaking that successfully makes you cry and feel sick. It’s great!