Considering Tyrannosaur comes from first-time director Paddy Considine (who you may remember from Shane Meadows’s grim Dead Man’s Shoes), it is remarkably well done, and I very much look forward to seeing his future works, if he continues maintaining this high standard of movie. I’m glad to hear that Strand Releasing will release the film in the United States, ensuring that it gets the recognition it deserves. I’m also pleased that Jeffery Wells, an American film critic, loved Tyrannosaur so much that he started a fundraising campaign in order to rent a screening room to show Hollywood, hopefully encouraging some Oscar nominations in the process. It’s a tough watch, I’ll give it that one – it does not at all fill one with a sense of joy – but I definitely recommend seeing it through.
Tyrannosaur is one of the most harrowing yet compelling films that I’ve ever encountered and a lot of praise needs to go towards Peter Mullan and Olivia Coleman for that (not to mention Eddie Marsan, who’s somewhat of a favourite of mine!). All of the performances in this film were superb, actually, and it was especially interesting to see Olivia Coleman do a complete character turnaround (as she is famous for her role in the British sitcom Peep Show), showing that she is perfectly adaptable to do darker, more emotional performances than what has been previously witnessed. I find it rather odd that the dog killing scene seems to have gained more notoreity than the explicit domestic abuse prevalent throughout the movie, but I suppose every aspect of this film is filled with misery, so it’s hard to pick the ‘worst’ moment. This might be the time to quickly point out that the film is a bit of a ‘misnomer’, as one assumes that it has something to do with dinosaurs. It does not. Tyrannosaur tells the story of two individuals who are unhappy with their lot in life – one has anger and drinking related problems and the other is the victim of an extremely abusive husband – who manages to form an unlikely friendship with each other. The reason behind the film’s title becomes clear after viewing it, don’t worry!
Yes, this film is depressing and bleak, but just because everything isn’t wrapped up neatly in a lovely little bow like we’re used to seeing in those cheesy Hollywood blockbusters, doesn’t mean that this film isn’t worth seeing. I like a film to challenge me. I like a film to repulse me. I like a film to provoke thought. And this is exactly what Tyrannosaur succeeds in doing – I can’t believe that anyone who’s watched it would deny this fact, would deny that this film haunted them for a little bit after the viewing. For this fact alone it deserves credit. Yes, one could also argue that it is a little too ‘twee’ (for lack of a better word) how the story unfolds with these two completely different people forming a close bond – the good old story of the rich and the poor meeting and actually hitting it off. But for me, this does not really ring true. The two main characters do not fall in love or become much happier people having met each other, they just find a person that they can relate to, nothing more. It’s hardly an Aladdin-esue tale of classes, and would more closely be described as part of the British Realism cinema.
Even though the film began life as a short called ‘Dog Altogether’ which managed to win a BAFTA, this did not help Paddy Considine raise enough money to fund the feature length film, and so he ended up making it for half the amount instead. He relied on a grant from the National Lottery fund through the UK Film Council for a small chunk of the budget and even resorted to just using local residents as the extras during the film. The fact that he had all of these obstacles to overcome in order to get this film made, for me only enhances my admiration for it.