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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 14.29%
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1 review, 1 rating

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by Jay Seaver

"Predators and pray."
5 stars

Paddy Considine's first feature as writer and director packs a wallop at both ends, and is pretty impressive in between as well. It's absolutely the sort of movie an actor makes, with meaty roles for its stars to dive into and plenty of one-on-one time. It's a pretty darn great actors' movie, though it's far from a carefree hour and a half.

Joseph (Peter Mullan) is a man almost consumed by rage. We see three examples of it right off the bat, and it's after the third one blows up in his face that he ducks into a charity shop to hide. The shop is being manned by Hannah (Olivia Colman), who approaches him with amazing calm and kindness. Cruelty surrounds them - Joseph's best friend is dying of cancer, the boy who lives next door (Samuel Bottomley) is tormented by his mother's boyfriend, and Olivia's husband James (Eddie Marsan) is himself prone to expressing his jealousy in nasty ways.

Cruel is perhaps the best way to describe the world in which Joseph, Hannah, and company live; idleness and lack of means don't create the sort of situations that kill people, but rather the ones that chip away at their dignity and create a status quo that feels inescapable - even spending time with friends doesn't seem to lift the spirits. Heck, the most joy seems to come during a funeral - one man's suffering is over, and the other characters have a reason to dwell on happier times.

Joseph isn't the title character, although it's not an unreasonable thing to initially assume. It doesn't really fit, though - while he can certainly summon a seemingly-unlimited amount of fury, it's not exactly effective fury - it doesn't give him a fearsome reputation or give him power in the neighborhood. He's not alone in that, though - anger and intimidation are visited on those who can't defend themselves, with the tables threatening to turn very quickly when someone stronger comes along. The question, then, is whether Hannah's faith and kindness is any more useful - does it just enable her victimhood or eventually confer real strength?

Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman are terrific at conveying these alternate approaches to their characters' lives. Mullan, naturally, gets the most obviously flashy bit, with several scenes at the very beginning showing Joseph as a rather rotten bully and his emotions plainly visible throughout. He's just as good when toned down, it turns out, and there's something kind of great about how his anger gives way to fear in some situations and how the audience can see Samuel nudging him toward acting like the man he wishes he was. Olivia Colman has the less showy but perhaps trickier entrance; she's got to be restrained and friendly despite clearly being old enough to know such generosity will not likely be returned in kind. Colman has very little room for exaggeration in her performance, but never really gets near the point where the audience would find her unreal or unsympathetic. Together, they have a nice chemistry - their shared loneliness and despair does not manifest as romance, but an extremely wary connection that may not even become friendship.

Considine does a nice job bringing this out and getting good work from the supporting cast as well. He's had a little practice - Mulland and Colman appear to have played the same characters in a short Considine directed - but in some ways that makes the feature even more impressive: Tyrannosaur does not feel padded or burdened with excess characters and subplots, and the center of the film never feels like a way to separate the intense start and finish.

The ends of the movie are going to stick out in one's memory, of course, but not just for what happens. Even as Considine is presenting new cruelties, he's building a case for something other than simple cynicism, even redemption won't come the usual way.

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originally posted: 03/10/12 11:58:45
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2011 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 47th Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 47th Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 34th Starz Denver Film Festival For more in the 34th Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.

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  DVD: 10-Apr-2012


  DVD: 10-Apr-2012

Directed by
  Paddy Considine

Written by
  Paddy Considine

  Peter Mullan
  Eddie Marsan
  Olivia Colman

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