Starring Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, and Eddie Marsan
Directed by Paddy Considine
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***
I apparently had saved one of the better acted 2011 films until the end. As the RyMickey Awards are heading towards their conclusion, it's entirely possible that Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman may find themselves in the acting races for their roles in the indie British flick Tyrannosaur -- and, no, unfortunately there are no extinct dinosaurs in the flick.
Instead, the title could very easily refer to Joseph (Mullan), a widowed alcoholic whose temper easily turns him into a beast on a dime. After a rough night, he wanders into a thrift shop run by Hannah (Colman) and becomes oddly entranced by her. Outwardly, Hannah seems to have it all together, but her devout Christianity is hiding the fact that she's involved in an absolutely horrible marriage with a husband (Eddie Marsan) who, like Joseph, can't control his temper. While Hannah tries to help Joseph deal with his demons, she has no one other than God to help her with her problems and since the Man upstairs seems to have forgotten about her, she slowly finds herself going secretly to liquor to drown her pain.
This is a film all about damaged souls and Tyrannosaur so easily could have become an incredible downer. However, first time director Paddy Considine keeps things going at a good clip (the film clocks in at under ninety minutes) and shifts the emphasis between the characters just enough that it never becomes too bogged down in depression. That said, don't mistake this for a happy-go-lucky film. We're in the emotional trenches here and Considine takes us on a journey with a few unexpected moments that elevate this beyond the norm.
The true reasons the film succeeds, though, are the performances of Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman. Once I got used to Mullan's strong accent (there's no shame in using the captions Netflix provides, is there?), I found myself rather fascinated with his character even though there is something rather rote and by the book when it comes to the self-destructive Joseph. He's the rough alcoholic with a heart we've all seen before, but Mullan doesn't allow Joseph to ever stoop to stupidity. He's a smart drunk...he knows wholeheartedly why he's angry and you can see the clarity in his glazed-over eyes.
Almost on the opposite end of the spectrum, Olivia Colman must attempt to hide Hannah's true emotions, trying to tell us that everything's okay, while deep within experiencing immense amounts of physical and emotional pain. Colman is effortlessly able to achieve this difficult task and when the script finally allows Hannah to let her unfetter her emotions, she lets loose with an agony that palpably resonates with the audience.
Tyrannosaur's Joseph and Hannah have buried their pain, anger, and frustration much too deep within themselves. When the emotions are finally "excavated," glimpses into the past show how their present has been shaped and a difficult, though engaging, film is the result.
The RyMickey Rating: B+