Film, Drama
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Peter Mullan in Tyrannosaur
Joseph (Peter Mullan) is God’s lonely man, a shambling, drunken widower, at odds with the world and prone to bouts of rage. He finds a kindred spirit in dumpy charity shop worker Hannah (Olivia Colman), whose buoyant exterior masks the appalling humiliations she’s suffering at the hands of her vile, sexually depraved husband, James (Eddie Marsan).

With this impassioned and unrelentingly bleak directorial debut, Paddy Considine – the man best known as Shane Meadows’s regular leading man – reveals himself as a strong director of actors. Mullan and Marsan deliver a pair of forceful, if familiar, performances, and the supporting cast are all near-perfect.

Special mention, though, goes to actress and comedienne Colman whose astonishing turn as Hannah scales the same excruciatingly fragile heights as Emily Watson in ‘Breaking the Waves’. Her work is exemplary: technically polished without feeling studied, empathetic but never overbearing or saccharine. One scene has her weeping in the storeroom of her charity shop while guzzling vodka, then switching in a heartbeat to a picture of happiness when a customer enters. It’s a shame that Colman is shortchanged by Considine’s writing and direction, which is prone to excess: one trite moment has her wailing abuse at a portrait of Jesus. There’s another instance where Joseph is sat in the pub psychotically muttering to himself, an off-hand morsel of virtuosic acting that confuses rather than enlightens. And whichever way you slice it, the story never feels fully plausible.

The supple, close-proximity camerawork by cinematographer Erik Wilson complements the material nicely, though the same can’t be said of the wan acoustica that crops up constantly on the soundtrack. The film says that a violent way of life is always punished, sometimes physically, always psychologically. It’s not a particularly deep or unique statement, but Considine howls it with sincerity and conviction.

By: David Jenkins


Release details

Rated: 18
Release date: Friday October 7 2011
Duration: 92 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Paddy Considine
Screenwriter: Paddy Considine
Cast: Peter Mullan
Eddie Marsan
Olivia Colman

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

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Some harsh reviews of a film that tries to tackle two strong story-lines honestly but does struggle at times. Less would have been more but that said, these are remarkable performances that will stay with me. The interweaved stories held me gripped unsure what dénouement would arrive. If you enjoyed Red Road and Fish Tank this is another film for you. Given the nonsense we often see on the screen this film is head and shoulders above them tackling real social issues and lives we rarely get a chance to consider or share. One to track down on dvd as it will quickly exit the cinema as half term titles push it out.

horrified filmgoer

Difficult to fault in terms of acting, direction, cinematography... but I can't say I enjoyed it. Some aspects were so horrific that I think I had my defences up a bit, which distanced me from the characters, and I wasn't moved. As a piece of art, four stars; as entertainment, no stars!


Harsh review from Time Out. The portrayal of the bleaknes and desperation of the two central characters is totally gripping. However, the plot is implausible as Olivia Coleman's character would have been involved in a church of some kind. Coleman is amazing - a long journey from being David Brent's favourite paper related journalist


I don't agree about the "trite" abuse at the portrait of jesus. Infact, I thought it was quite poignant as Christianity was what she thought would rid her of all the pain in her life. However, it was clear that it wasn't so she vented her anger in much the way that many of the other characters in the film do also. In addition, I also don't agree with the fact that you find Joseph muttering to himself in the pub as not "enlightening". I'm not sure about the kind of pubs you go into often but generally there's always a man talking to himself in the ones I go into. I always wonder what their backstory is and why on earth they would want to speak out like that in public. This film gave those people a voice to me rather than them being "that nutter in the corner". The story does feel plausible, but I guess that depends on what environment you grew up in.