Year: 2011
Production Co: Warp X
Director: Paddy Considine
Writer: Paddy Considine
Cast: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan

I'd read reviews back when this film came out about how great it was but none of them quite did justice to how miserable and depressing it was. It joins other British kitchen sink dramas about reprehensible people like Nil By Mouth and The War Zone.

Give you an idea of the people we're dealing with? We meet Joseph (Peter Mullan) getting barred from the pub after starting a fight, so beset by his vengeful temper he kicks his dog (who's tied up outside) to death... and he's the hero of the tale.

Every character in the story is the worst kind of off license-loitering, gyro cheque-grabbing scum, and with the exception of Joseph's erstwhile love interest – softly spoken charity shop worker Hannah (Olivia Colman) – you'll hope an out of control lorry comes racing through their ugly Scottish industrial village home and mows the lot of them down. After all that, of course, Hannah commits the worst act of all of them, no matter how glad you'll be she did.

Somewhere in here, it seems writer/director Paddy Considine is asking you to understand and sympathise with these people because they have no control over their circumstances or culture, but if you came across them in real life you'd be very short of both.

Along with manic rage and alcoholism, Joseph also seems to be slightly agoraphobic, so a few days after killing his own dog and losing the last thing in his life that loves him, he storms into Hannah's shop one day after feeling like he's losing his mind to duck down behind a rack of clothes and hide.

Hannah being determined to save him with the love of Christ so readily is a bit on the nose, but Joseph finds his skewered version of a friend in her, returning to her shop to hurl abuse at her and laugh at her naivety in humanity, but crucially coming back more than once to do so.

Hannah's dealing with an even more monstrous man at home, her husband James (Eddie Marsan), and Joseph ends up in a position where he might be her best chance at escape no different than she represents for him.

Throw in the thug who lives over the street always threatening to sic his savage terrier on everyone, and the whole thing is a very effective marketing campaign for eugenics.

Any time a movie with an approach this dramatically serious asks you to watch and empathise with the plight of criminals, low lives and reprobates like those in Tyrannosaur, part of the creative intent of the writer and director seems to be to remind us that life isn't all pretty and shiny with happy people and looking like a postcard.

But while Tyrannosaur shows an assured authorial hand, do we really need to be made so depressed by watching that kind of thing when we've seen it so many times and it doesn't really add anything new to the point it's making?

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