By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Imagine my surprise when I popped in the DVD for a movie entitled Tyrannosaur and found a bunch of depressed Irish people populating my TV screen. Man, those pirated Kyrgyzstani DVD covers sure lose something in the translation sometimes.
For example, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has very little to do with mimes
So, instead of a giant prehistoric predator ravaging dripping, topless Spring Breakers or dripping, topless Sam Neills, what this movie turned out to be about was a bitter, violent old man played by Peter Mullan who befriends a Christian charity shop worker (Olivia Colman) who harbors some terrible secrets herself. He finds that the path to his redemption possibly lies in this friendship, and not in velociraptors, as previously assumed.
I’m going to refrain from spoilers as much as possible, not that this is a particularly twisty film, but plot points tend to have a greater impact when they’re not known in advance. I will tell you, however, that the film opens with Mullan kicking a dog to death. Now, it would take a hell of a performance to take a character from that beginning to the point where we deeply care for and empathize with him, and Mullan delivers it. It’s a savage performance, showing the blinding rage that often consumes his character and the caring, maybe even good, man buried deep within.
He’s complimented perfectly by Colman’s performance, whose compassion coaxes the humanity out of him. They are perfect on the screen together, and she’s maybe even better facing down her true beast of a husband, played with utter, creepy depravity by Eddie Marsan.
A face tailor-made for lurking in the background of your nightmares
You also have to toast director Paddy Considine, an experienced character actor himself, who has crafted a film that feels real, and the lingering close-ups and beautiful music he employs underscore the by turns unsettling and uplifting story he has to tell.
I don’t want to make it sound like this is always the case, but sometimes it seems like the script takes a few shortcuts with Mullan’s character in his journey from point A (horrible) to point B (relatable). In one scene in particular, he switches from beating the hell out of some young punks to existential crisis, mid-ass kicking. Not that this is impossible, but usually that happens sometime after the drunken adrenaline rush.
The one Steven Seagal’s been on for 23 years, with nary a hint of self-awareness
I really wanted to give this only two beers, but near the end the script couldn’t resist putting the screws to every. single. character. Shit happens, I know, but in this movie nobody is spared. When a tragic (although foreshadowed) fate is shoehorned in even for the little kid, the level of depressing Tyrannosaur reaches verges on, but thankfully doesn’t quite reach, ridiculous.
Amazing performances and a very human story, but if you’re choosing between watching this and calling a suicide hotline… maybe go with the hotline.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every instance of animal or spousal abuse
Take a Drink: every time a ray of light shines through, literally or figuratively
Drink a Shot: whenever Eddie Marsan’s ugly mug fills the screen