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Actor Paddy Considine’s directorial debut Tyrannosaur is released in Spain this month, dubbed with the rather bland title of Redención (“Redemption”). Set in the English Midlands, the film stars Peter Mullan as Joseph, an unemployed widower tormented by his alcoholism and incontrollable rage. His life is changed when he meets Hannah (Olivia Colman), a charity shop worker who tries to help him with prayer and simple kindness. However, the tables are soon turned, and the violent and volatile Joseph suddenly finds himself sheltering this vulnerable and deeply damaged woman from her abusive husband (Eddie Marsan).
Tyrannosaur makes for difficult but – as the plethora of awards it received at last year’s festivals would suggest – essential viewing. Populated with thugs and bullies and set to the bleak backdrop of Another Crappy English Town, Considine’s film is gritty, stark and savage. The threat of violence looms in even the more peaceful scenes and its faint glimmers of light – the sweet little boy next door, Hannah’s innate goodness, Joseph’s tentative steps towards a better life – are quickly snuffed out. Much like Shane Meadows, whom he worked alongside in A Room for Romeo Brass, Dead Man’s Shoes and Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee, Considine acknowledges the possibility for warmth and joy in dismal situations, but ultimately gives a miserable depiction of modern Britain.
The film confirms Considine’s talent as both a director and a screenwriter, but is particularly memorable for its incredible performances. Peter Mullan hits exactly the right note as Joseph, showing just enough vulnerability to evoke sympathy but never letting the viewer forget how dangerous a man he really is. The film’s real star, however, is Olivia Colman, who is truly heartbreaking as Hannah. Colman is best known for her supporting roles in British comedy series such as Peep Show and Green Wing, making her performance as in Tyrannosaur all the more jarring for those familiar with her work. She treats her battered character with huge empathy and the utmost respect while nonetheless acknowledging her strength and her darkness. Tyrannosaur will cause discomfort, but this powerful film is well worth the effort.
March 2nd (premiere in Spain)