rating: 4From its title and poster alone, youd be forgiven for believing, for a moment at least, that Paddy Considines directorial debut Tyrannosaur was a UK Jurassic Park equivalent. And if David Cameron had his way, it would be. But there are no heroes here, no Dr. Alan Grants or Jeff Goldblums. Considines characters defy simple definition as the brainy one or the smooth chap; each is flawed, some are detestable but all are distinctly human. Tyrannosaurs bile-filled protagonist is Joseph, played with growling ferocity by Peter Mullan. Joseph was first explored in Considines 2007 short film Dog Altogether and Tyrannosaur largely incorporates the shorts sentiment into its opening act. Joseph is a loathsome human being who flits from one altercation to the next, lashing out violently at those around him seemingly with little provocation. Hes categorically unlikeable, but somehow, hes also instantly compelling. This is largely down to subtle, masterful writing and direction from Considine but also thanks in no small part to Mullans absolutely pitch perfect performance. Theres a poetic tragedy to Joseph even from the first scene; an interior vulnerability that Mullan succeeds to layer just underneath his intense, guttural performance. Not long into the film, Joseph whos in an almost nomadic state of constant motion finds himself in a charity shop when fleeing from police. Olivia Coleman (a.k.a Sophie from Peep Show) plays Hannah, the shops owner and Josephs inadvertent confidant. Her unexpected ability to convey dark, powerful emotion is at an overwhelming contrast to her brighter turn on the Channel 4 sitcom. She and Joseph strike an awkward symbiotic bond; Joseph is in free-fall, desperate for real human contact, and Hannah is suffering vile abuses of every kind from her perverted husband James (Eddie Marsan) and needs escape. Joseph and Hannah have an unpredictable relationship, which doesnt necessarily step up in each passing scene - moments of tenderness are spoiled by moments of ugliness and moments of revelation are shadowed by moments of denial. Its a gourmet performance from both Mullan and Coleman, who had extremely challenging roles to play. Their unsteady but vital kinship could have easily been lost in the brutality, the severity and the perversity of the plot, but with two such phenomenal performers, Considine is able to mine an elemental beauty from the most inhospitable landscape. Swathed in a freezing layer of muted grey, Considines England is an inimical wasteland, devoid of warmth in both its landscape and its denizens; its heavy brown and icy blue colour pallete is emblematic of the films heavy tone. Indeed, you wont find answers here in the traditional sense of the word. Tyrannosaur is as difficult to watch as this review implies, but no less stirring for it. Its characters dont develop to the point of a neat conclusion in which all loose ends are tied. Instead, Tyrannosaur's intrinsic message is that life isnt neat, that development doesnt necessarily mean tangible change and that sometimes, tragedy is the forgone conclusion. Film Tyrannosaur doesnt patronise, it doesnt pander and it makes no apologies for what it is. And thats a brutal film, with flawed characters that seem doomed from the start - and largely are. That Tyrannosaur never drudges into the overly-depressing though; that it always harkens back to its poetic core, even managing to lace in elements of gallows humour, is a testament to the power of Considines writing and direction. Tyrannosaur is a must-see for any who require emotional resonance from the films they choose to watch. A triumphant debut for the young actor-cum-director that practically guarantees him a deserved second feature. Transfer Quality
rating:3.5The transfer is largely effective, with daytime scenes yielding an impressive level of detail, the heavy, neutral colour scheme mixed to a satisfyingly bleak consistency. Darkness casts a distinct layer of mugginess over the picture, thanks to some excessive banding and black crush, but this seems to fit the films moody tone rather than to detract from the overall visual experience. Its definitely not without flaws, but when you factor in the films meagre budget (£75,000), its almost entirely forgivable. Sound Quality
rating:3Tyrannosaurs DTS-HD Master Audio track makes for a consistent, if not overly impressive aural experience. Its no sin however, as again this can be attributed to budgetary constraints. That said, the sound is accomplished enough insofar as the fact that everything is exactly where it should be in the mix. Youll never, for example, miss a line as a result of a poorly mixed barking dog, but neither will you be transfixed by the intimacy of a characters breath. Special Features
rating:3.5Along with a revelatory commentary track provided by Considine and producer Diarmid Scrimshaw, theres also a deleted scene reel, and a promo gallery. Perhaps the most important extra feature though, is the inclusion of Dog Altogether, the short on which Tyrannosaur is solely based. Theres not an awful lot on offer, but whats available is deep and honest enough to be considered prime companions to the movie. Overall
rating:4With the films sparse budget in mind, Tyrannosaurs Blu-ray release is a resounding triumph. Any niggling issues with the audio/visual quality is offset immediately by the quality of the film itself, the love, dedication and skill that birthed its production and its inherent importance to the British film industry in its time of economic distress. Make no mistake, by buying this Blu, youre supporting a scene that needs it; and, if it can produce such vital, affecting pieces of cinema such as Tyrannosaur, deserves it too. Tyrannosaur is available now on Blu-ray.
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