One of the great director/actor partnerships in British cinema today is undoubtedly been the one struck up between Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine. Even though their collaborations are unlike say Burton and Depp where they can't make a film without one another, it's still managed to produce one of the best British films of the last decade in Dead Man's Shoes and announced Considine as one of the most creditable - if at times underrated in my opinion - actors in the industry today. However this time round, Paddy has stepped away from Shane's directorial creativity and sought to make his own film in the form of brutal drama, Tyrannosaur.
Almost a spin off or a full-length remake of Considine's BAFTA award-winning short film from 2007, Dog Altogether, Tyrannosaur tells the story of dead beat, alcoholic, Joseph (Peter Mullan), as he strikes up a somewhat estranged friendship with good Christian woman, Hannah (Olivia Colman) who works in a local charity shop. The situation becomes more complicated as the Hannah's complicated relationship with her husband surface to the forefront, which suffice to say doesn't make for comfortable, wholesome, cinema.
Where Tyrannosaur stands above quite a lot of films you'll see this year is in the powerful and uncompromising performances of Mullan and Colman. Peter Mullan's Joseph was a seriously disturbed being and I liked that Considine never seemed to shy away from this deranged personality. It made for the moments when the purer aspects of his soul were revealed all the more touching and even in some respects more tragic. Particularly in the scene where he meets Colman's Hannah for the first time, hiding behind a clothes rack.
I've always been a fan of Olivia Colman's work in shows such as Green Wing and the untouchable, Peep Show. However as it turns out, her comedy work never gave her any real justice for her true acting talents. In Tyrannosaur she was simply remarkable. Every moment she featured you just felt this uneasy dread something profoundly awful was about to occur. Her chemistry with Mullan was brilliant, but even more so with the truly sinister performance given by the excellent, Eddie Marsan as Colman's physically and mentally abusive husband.
And so we come to Considine himself, who has created a bleak, hopeless, landscape in Tyrannosaur albeit not too dissimilar to the settings featured in his good friend Shane Meadows' films. Mullan's Joseph could've easily have slotted into the world of Dead Man's Shoes or This Is England. For their sake they'll be thankful he didn't. Though Considine should also be applauded for his tight script, which though being dark also had a soft element of this strange comic timing to it.
If I had to land any criticism to this, mostly fantastic, début film it would be it lacked the emotional intensity found in like minded films such as, This Is England. More than made up for it with the glorious use of The Leisure Society's beautiful song, We Were Wasted in the closing scene and theatrical trailer.
Don't be put off by the absence of actual dinosaurs! Tyrannosaur is a truly exceptional piece of British cinema, featuring three of the most honest, visceral, uneasy and ultimately tragic performances you will see in a cinema in 2011 from Peter Mullan, Eddie Marsan and Olivia Colman - who has now officially got my backing for Best Actress in the upcoming awards season. Go see it now. Except maybe if you're a dog lover...
Tyrannosaur is in cinemas from Friday October 8th 2011.