No, this isn’t some long-lost prequel to Jurassic Park. In fact, there are no prehistoric reptiles to found anywhere in this gritty, bleak British drama. But there are plenty of monsters.
Tyrannosaur is actor Paddy Considine’s feature length debut as a director. The film is basically an extension of his 2007 short film Dog Altogether, which is included on this DVD release as a special feature. When Tyrannosaur was released in the U.K. last year it won a BAFTA along with several Sundance Festival awards, but the film was never released theatrically in New Zealand.
The film stars Peter Mullan (My Name Is Joe) as Joseph, a down-and-out middle-aged widower who is full of anger, rage and alcohol. After one unhappy drinking session, his anger wells up and he kicks the life out of his own dog, probably the one living creature that cared about him. It’s a difficult scene to watch and it’s even more difficult to find any sympathy for a character who is capable of such a despicable act. One person who does is Hannah, a woman who works in a nearby charity shop played by Olivia Colman. After another angry outburst, she finds Joseph curled up in a ball among the used clothing racks in her shop and she offers to play for him.
As it turns out, Hannah has her own demons to cope with. Her husband, played by Eddie Marsan, treats her abominably…subjecting her to incredibly cruel and humiliating treatment.
Also involved in Joseph’s life is a young neighbourhood boy whose stepfather also seems consumed with rage, or maybe he’s just a jerk.
Anyway, after the death of Joseph’s dog, he seems determined to turn his life around, but finds that it’s not so easy. Mullan’s performance is riveting, especially in the scene where he can be seen trying to control his rage and behave in a civilized fashion. The other amazing performance is by Colman whose character is as complex as her situation.
While the film is ultimately about redemption, it is also an observation about how rage has infiltrated modern society. It seems to run across all classes, races and age groups. The film doesn’t really offer up many answers but it does leave the audience with something to think about.
As a film it’s not perfect…the inclusion of the young neighbour boy is an obvious ploy to make Joseph more sympathetic and direct the audience’s disgust at another, lesser character. But Considine has put together a realistic, thoughtful film that resonates long after the credits have rolled by.