Tyrannosaur has gobbled up awards at film festivals, including directing and acting awards at Sundance, and leads Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman have been mentioned as possible Oscar nominees for best actor and actress. The performances they deliver are worthy and give heart to a story about people trapped in bleak situations.
Mullan (Trainspotting) is no stranger to tales of suffering set against social stagnation and scandalously indifferent institutions in the United Kingdom, having directed and starred in the excellent film Neds, about delinquent youth in Scotland, and The Magdalene Sisters, about young Irish women confined to an asylum. In Tyrannosaur, Mullan plays Joseph, a stubborn, mean, lonely drunk who's barely civil on a good day, though he's strangely compassionate to a young neighbor. He is a prisoner of his own rage, both when irked by the slightest intrusive noises by others and when trying to convince himself not to take a bat to the offending party. A failed attempt at restraint leads him to hide in a charitable thrift store run by Hannah (Colman), who offers to pray for him. For all her gentle kindness, he offers only verbal abuse in return.
Joseph returns to the store to ask Hannah to pray for a sick friend, and a sort of companionship develops, though he cannot simply turn off his anger or hostile demeanor, and even her forgiveness has its limits. Director Paddy Considine blocks in their lives with the expected ravages of drunkenness, racial scapegoats, and domestic abuse by people resigned to tedium and selfishness. It's not surprising Joseph's viciousness gives the film a sharp edge, but the title doesn't refer to him, and the way in which the characters lash out, cope and attone is unpredictable. The damage and aftermath is humbling and revealing for all. Mullan and Colman make a difficult trip well worth it. Tickets $7 general admission, $6 students/seniors, $5 Zeitgeist members. — Will Coviello