Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Paddy Considine's Tyrannosaur is more horrific than most films calling themselves horror films. I guess I'm talking to you, Human Centipede 2. It's a portrait of a familiar, brutal British milieu committed to film before by Gary Oldman's amazing Nil By Mouth and Tim Roth's sublime The War Zone.

Why do I like films that, to some, feel like depressing stacked on top of depressing? Could be that they affirm my world view -- or one of them, at least. Or perhaps I just love honest representations of humanity, representations that don't lie or cave in to mediocrity under their own nihilistic pressure.

The focus here is Joseph (Peter Mullan), a damaged, angry, intelligent man, played with caustic menace and pathos by Mullan; he's not the 'Tyrannosaur' of the title, although he's prone to rampage like one. One shitty afternoon, Joseph takes refuge in a thrift store run by Hannah (Olivia Colman); she takes pity on the man and cops an earful of bile for her efforts. Later, Joseph will regret his thoughtlessness, and Hannah will reveal a side of her life that's a relentless gut-punch.

The central villain of this piece (in a film of villains shaded grey) is Hannah's husband James (Eddie Marsan), a thoroughly pernicious piece of work whose grotesque behavior towards Hannah is jaw-dropping.

 One sequence, involving him urinating on her, provides, like much of this film, several layers of outrage. Just when you think you've got the film figured, it springs surprise after surprise until it rises to a level of brilliance.

Considine, behind the camera for the first time, directs with authority and economy, and maintains restraint when most would lose grip on the reins.

This is one real fuckin movie. Hannah is an abused woman, a frightened woman who dreads going home. When the jealous, self-loathing Marsan drives into town to pick her up one evening after she drowns her anxieties in drink, we're truly terrified for her. Colman's performance is searing. It's painful to watch. A bloody portrait of a reluctant victim. Living in a constant state of fear, she's a woman tumbling down a staircase of despair, her personality replaced by a shell. A beautiful soul in retreat.

Ultimately, Tyrannosaur isn't depressing -- not for those liberated by truth. On the contrary, it's refreshing, invigorating cinema, reality with its skin peeled back, nerve endings exposed. Picture a clitoris separated from its sheath, then sliced open with a razer. That's the tenderness of the love and hate evoked here. And that moisture you see is acid outrage.


  1. Spot on. You're last paragraph really rings true for me, whereas Roth and Oldman's films were rather bleak and troubling, Tyrannosaur affected me, surprisingly, in an opposite fashion.

  2. So if I understand correctly there's no actual dinosaurs in this? What a fuckin' misnomer!

  3. d -- I didn't see any dinosaurs -- not in the theatrical cut, anyway. I'm sure the woman who is suing the producers of DRIVE for not delivering a full-on car chase movie will sue the TYRANNOSAUR producers, too. At least the producers of ...IF are safe. Ambiguity is difficult to litigate.


    Diary -- I like the other two films very much, but TYRANNOSAUR is a little more hopeful.

  4. Kinda hope you're kidding about this disgruntled Drive viewer yet fully expect that you're not.

    Just happened to have my headphones jacked in, now noticing the ominous sound design on your blog!

  5. ...oh, my mistake. Didn't realize that the Fertisle trailer was on autostart. Well, that explains that.