Wednesday, March 07, 2012

"Tyrannosaur", by Paddy Considine, will make you grit your teeth, with down-to-earth people

Strand Releasing is distributing (in the US) “Tyrannosaur”, a gritty first feature from working-class England by Paddy Considine. The film won multiple awards at Sundance in 2011. The DVD is available on April 3.  In the UK, the film is distributed by Optimum.

The film focuses most on three down-and-out characters.  Joseph (Peter Mullan) is an alcoholic widower, filled with rage. One day, he stumbles into a dry cleaning shop operated by Hannah (Olivia Colman), who has the presence of mind to calm him and pray for him. But then Hannah is the victim of spousal abuse by James (Eddie Marsan), who claims to be a born-again Christian, too. The film is hard to watch, the characters are grubby and “unattractive” in the conventional way. They can generate empathy but not rooting interest.  The rural dialect is hard to follow and takes listening.  The film, however, gradually gains momentum as the characters propel toward an ironic and tragic climax, perhaps with a touch of Hitchcock.  But the movie also has the feel of a Thomas Hardy novel.  Considine shot it in conventional technique, in 2.35:1 aspect, giving a bigger look than necessary.

When I started piano at age 8, I remember lessons being interrupted when my piano teacher’s husband would appear at the basement door to start arguments.  This was disturbing to me but I hardly talked about it, even to my parents.  She died when I was 14, suddenly, of cancer.  I hadn’t thought about this for years until I saw this film.

Strand’s site for the film is here.

Considine had directed a related short, “Dog Altogether”, about the Joseph character, not included in the sample DVD from Strand (I think it is on the one for sale), but a scene near the end of the feature appears related to the short.

YouTube has a video where Considine explains the short, but I couldn't find the short online right now. 

Note: I was provided a sample and the digital poster by the distributor.  The first image is mine. It was shot in Western Maryland in 2010 but would appear to resemble some of the hilly English countryside, where the film is shot.  In reviews, I often supply images of my own that resemble the look of the film. By the way,  I have a parents' estate with a treasure trove of old, valuable images.  

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