Monday, November 12, 2012

Movie Review - Tyrannosaur

The much-lauded directorial debut from Paddy Considine (best known to me as the journo who gets killed by the CIA in The Bourne Ultimatum), this low-budget British feature has received critical acclaim for its portrayal of two very different individuals who form an unconventional friendship in the midst of violence and loss.

Firstly, let me just say that the direction and acting is second-to-none. Olivia Colman (more familiar as a comedy actress in the likes of Peep Show and Rev.) and Peter Mullan (War Horse) give mesmerising performances. The setting is dark and depressing, with brief moments of happiness that lift things briefly out of the gloom.

When we are introduced to the two main characters, we assume they are poles apart – one is a violent, down-and-out drunk while the other is a middle-class Christian working in a charity shop. We soon learn, however, that they have a lot more in common than one would think.

While I accept this is a good film on artistic merit, ultimately I felt it could be a very different and more rewarding film than it was.  

Personally, all of my problems with this film hinge on Hannah, who turns out to be very superficial in her faith. The only things that seem to identify her as a Christian are the fact that she prays a couple of times and works in a charity shop. Hardly enough for a strong conviction. This is the big problem with cinema and TV – most portrayals of Christians are unfair stereotypes which instantly loses my respect for the team making the film.

We soon learn that Hannah's life is far from perfect (not that a Christian's life should be perfect – they never are, of course), and while faced with difficult and horrific circumstances not once do we see her cry out to God for any kind of intervention.

Had her faith been more real, I could see how her relationship with Mullan's Joseph might have been a source of real change for both of them. I wouldn't expect it to be an easy ride. There would be ups and downs – conflict – but ultimately they would have been able to start again and look to the future. I just think the story stayed too much in the dark and wouldn't allow itself to wander into the light enough.

This film claims that eventually the characters achieve redemption, but I'm not convinced. Instead, the conclusion feels ambiguous with just a tiny glimpse of hope.

I'm not against dark films per se, but I feel that it's important for characters to reach that personal point of revelation, where they learn the lessons from the journey they've been on and ultimately become better people. That's the essence of most successful stories. Hopefully, Tyrannosaur isn't one of those films that begins a new trend of nihilistic stories devoid of hope.

Now that really would be depressing.

Verdict: 7 out of 10

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