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By Dave Best

Paddy Considine is arguably one of the best British actors of his generation. As comfortable working on the British indie scene as in Hollywood, he has delivered consistently impressive performances in varied roles. Tyrannosaur (2011) however, saw Considine step out of his comfort zone and behind the camera for his self-penned, full-length, directorial debut; a tough, gritty film which hits hard and proves that acting isn’t his only talent.

Set in a grim, run down council estate in Northern England, Tyrannosaur follows the events of a pivotal few weeks in the lives of lead characters, Joseph (Peter Mullan), a rage-fuelled, self-destructive burn-out and Hannah (Olivia Colman), a middle-class, charity shop worker who tries to help reform Joseph whilst dealing with a dark secret of her own. The film unflinchingly deals with some difficult and distressing themes and is by no means an easy watch but it is an astounding piece of modern British cinema with real heart.

Peter Mullan as Joseph
Tyrannosaur is an example of solid, character-based drama and storytelling. The strength of the film comes from its focus on allowing Joseph and Hannah to be the driving force of the narrative.  Each of them is initially presented in a fairly one dimensional manner but through their interactions with one another and the people close to them they are gradually and organically revealed to be complex, compelling and deeply sympathetic characters. 

Mullan and Colman both give mesmerising, powerhouse performances which are amplified further when they are on screen together. They are realistic and engaging on a legitimately human level, which is one of the reasons this is such an engrossing film. This is also testament to the script, which is crafted with finesse and steeped in a bleak authenticity.

Paddy Considine on set with Olivia Colman
  Although this is not a biographical piece, it is clear that Considine’s real life experience of growing up on a similar council estate is reflected on the screen. He paints a vivid picture of a community on the bottom rung of society in a concise and striking way.  Tyrannosaur openly deals with some difficult, hard-hitting themes but it also has some more covert notions running through it. For instance, the differing portrayal of alcohol throughout the film raises interesting questions about the British obsession with booze and the role it plays in society, regardless of class and status. Threads like this give extra layers of depth to the proceedings and add to the end result which is a challenging and distinctively British drama that drags you through an emotional wringer and leaves you with plenty to think about.

For further information visit Tyrannosaur's IMDb page: www.imdb.com/title/tt1204340

Suggested further viewing: Dead Man's Shoes (2004), Neds (2010)