CIFF Review: Tyrannosaur


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To begin this review, I have to reflect on Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino. In that film, a bitter, elderly man finds redemption for his old ways by aiding members of a Hmong family. That film, rife with Christian imagery (and culminating with one of the cheesiest climactic scenes in film), was Eastwood’s attempt at crafting a redemption tale that, ultimately, was too predictable and disengaging.

What does this have to do with Tyrannosaur, you ask? Well, Tyrannosaur is the redemption tale that Gran Torino wishes it could have been.

Director: Paddy Considine
Rating: TBD
Country: United Kingdom

Tyrannosaur follows Joseph (Peter Mullan), a self-destructive and rage-filled man, as a friendship develops with a Christian goodwill store worker, Hannah (Olivia Colman). Despite being opposites on the outside, they each have internal demons that they learn to handle together. It all comes to a head in a stunning climax that will shock its audiences.

Actor Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz) makes his feature-length debut as writer/director of Tyrannosaur, which itself is expanded from a short film of his, Dog Altogether. The film is very gritty, holding no punches back in its various gruesome scenes. Mullan’s take as Joseph fits the gritty, sometimes violent overall tone of the film. Just looking at him draws images of the “tough as nails” older badass everybody avoids. At the same time, there are moments of sentimentality, which suits Colman’s character.

Besides the obvious theme of redemption, Tyrannosaur explores the different ways we react to abuse, whether it’s inflicted upon us ourselves or from others. Whether it’s simply drinking to excess or desperately feigning ignorance in the name of “love,” Considine finds the proper ways of capturing that on film. It’s the acknowledgement of abuse that the two main characters share with one another that ultimately ties the film up properly.

For his written/directorial debut, Considine really doesn’t show many freshman follies with Tyrannosaur. It’s gritty, it’s real, and more importantly, it’s not cliche. With marvelous performances from Mullan and Colman and with a great script and direction (with specific kudos to the climax), Tyrannosaur will leave you marveling its praises long after the credits roll.