Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Paddy Considine - Tyrannosaur

Famous for his acting roles as "Graham Purvis" in Submarine, "Frank Thorogood" in Stoned and a supporting role as "Simon Ross" in The Bourne Ultimatum, it was in 2004 that Paddy Considine blew me away as "Richard" in Dead Man's Shoes. 

All of the above films are heartily recommended, but his performance in Dead Man's Shoes is just stunning. Both Dead Man's Shoes and Tyrannosaur share a common bond, being that they both make me react as "Clarence" in Tony Scott's True Romance. To paraphrase, as I've used it in one of my earlier film blog's, I love film's that you immediately want to share your feelings and emotions and your experience of the film with someone close to you, to "go and eat some pie" and discuss the majesty of the film you've just watched. That's the film geek in me!

To date, Paddy Considine has directed just the one cinematic release and I was very lucky to see this during it's opening week. However, he has the proud honour(!) of kicking off my short series on new British Directors, with Ben Wheatley and Shane Meadows film blogs to follow. I hope you enjoy this appraisal of his one release to date, Tyrannosaur.

As with all of my film blog's, it is not my intention to provide endless spoilers, fact tracks or trivia. The Internet is awash with them if you need it! Rather, this is my blog, my appreciation of the Director, his art, and in this case, his first cinematic release. My blog's are personal and written purely from a fan's perspective and how I react to the film's themselves, their keys and theme's and of my enduring love for cinema.

Tyrannosaur (2011)

"So I called her the Tyrannosaur. I thought it was funny"

The opening ten minutes are equal parts shocking, riveting and heartbreaking that set the ground rules for this stunning first film helmed by Paddy Considine. A film that on first viewing reduced me to tears (which great films often do) but many viewings later still reduces me to tears. They're not personal tears in any way, it doesn't resonate me with for that reason. It resonates with me because several horrendous subjects are tackled so brilliantly by a cast of actors all producing a master class in their art. Considine has received the utmost praise for this film from his film industry peers, however if you love this film as much as I, read the appraisals of his actors, or the various YouTube clips of their interviews (especially recommended is Olivia Colman's praise of him on the Radio 5Live "Wittertainment" film show). There is a genuine love for Considine, his art, and particularly this film.

The opening ten minutes starkly demonstrates "Joseph" (Peter Mullan) dual state of mind. With flash cuts and an unexplained flashback/flash forward, a loss at the Bookmakers prompts a stream of verbal abuse, which becomes a regular theme throughout the film. As does the violence, as first he murders his faithful and beloved dog before mourning it's passing. A racially aggressive meeting at a Post Office boils to breaking point before Joseph is contrite and accepting. His leaving of the Post Office provides yet more duality and a simple shot from the Director, as never moving the camera, Joseph walks out of shot before returning in a few seconds to throw a brick through the window.

Quietly within his thoughts at his local pub, the silence is broken in the background by three young lads larking around, playing pool. Again boiling over, Joseph responds, violently beating one lad, threatening another as the third runs away. The camera never wavers from Joseph, 30 second or more, the anger etched all over his face. Out of shot, the pool cue is dropped and the tension drains from the scene.

Desperate, he walks into a charity shop and immediately hides behind a rail of old clothing, with the camera panning for the first time onto "Hannah" (Olivia Colman). "What's your name?" asks a bemused Hannah. "Robert De Niro" comes the response from an angry Joseph, still hiding. "Would you like a cup of tea, Robert?" comes the tension breaking reply from Hannah, but Joseph's angry response of "fuck off" soon ratchets the tension up again. Kneeling on the other side of the clothing rail still hiding Joseph, Hannah kneels too and says a simple prayer aloud. Two cameras, two differing reactions, of a worried Hannah, and a weeping Joseph.

Closing the shop, a smiling Hannah warmly asks "You feel better now?. Not ignoring Hannah, but not responding either, Joseph walks away to a smiling, cheery "Bye" from Hannah.

This is another of those difficult films to appraise without giving too many spoilers. Following that opening ten minutes is a further eighty minutes of tension which builds, scene by scene, often sub scene by sub scene too in the background, as well as character by character. All characters have a duality, some on show immediately, some subtly build as the narrative dictates the story. Only one character remains constant and true, and heartbreakingly so. But the story is the key. So very well told and simply shot by first timer Considine, the unusual angles and key shots are impressive, but it's the length of time he leaves on the characters to tell their story that is the most impressive. As below, Peter Mullan excels here, but it could see easily apply to both Olivia Colman and Eddie Marsan. The huge breather and relief scene comes at both the best time for the audience and for the film as a whole and in a very unexpected guise. When you find it, it's a joy.

Joseph (Peter Mullan) So little dialogue in the film, yet Peter Mullan does much with it, and so much more. The ending scene Narration has probably more words within it than his dialogue in the film itself! But the camera never wavers from Joseph, so often with a zoom close up lingering for many seconds with no dialogue, yet it's a thunderous performance. His duality of character is detected within seconds of the film, yet there are so many more layers to unravel before Joseph is fully on show. An early example is the scene following the above ten minute opener, with the camera fully on Joseph, a slow panning reveal shot to Olivia, Jesus on the wall behind her, the diatribe that follows shocks and jolts you as he walks away from the charity shop. His friendship with "Sam" or "Son" as he often calls him is superb. Sam (Samuel Bottomley) deserves a special mention of his own. Brilliant for a boy so young.  

(Olivia Colman) Appears fresh faced, smiling and full of a zest for life who is a gentle kind soul with a deep religious fervour. Olivia Colman's performance is an acting master class and fully deserving of the slew of awards she garnered. Similar to Joseph above, the camera also never wavers from Hannah, and their joint scenes are glorious. As the layers unravel, so the acting enhances your involvement with the character, and your willing of the character to triumph. Her later scenes with husband James are truly heartbreaking. As they embrace, the camera pans to a zoom on her face and she gives everything, solace, condemnation, love, regret and pure unadulterated hatred as she forces herself not to be sick. Just pure brilliance.

James (Eddie Marsan) Yet another great, nuanced performance from Eddie Marsan. His intentions and layers are the easiest to spot, yet the toughest to watch. Picking up Hannah from a night out drinking, he places her in the car in a police arrest style. It's subtle, yet says so much.

In support of these wonderfully layered and heart breaking characters are "Sam" (Samuel Bottomley) who deserves a repeated mention for his touching and gentle shared scenes with his adopted Father like figure of Joseph. "Kelly" (Sian Breckin), "Bod" (Paul Popplewell), "Marie" (Sally Carman) and "Tommy" (Ned Dennehy) all deserve praise for their cameos and supporting roles, but are left vague so as to not hint at or spoil the plot. The charity shop is the central hub of the film and where many of the key scenes take place, employing one, maybe two cameras at most for many of the scenes. The majority are Joseph and Hannah dual scenes, each one a gem in it's own way, even the briefest of scenes propel the story. Aside from the heavy violence and heavy use of language, it's a story of single people confined within partnerships or relationships they seek release from. Perhaps a metaphor for the film is Hannah's anger at the Jesus picture hanging on the wall of the shop before in anger, she throws something at it to dislodge it, as the lingering camera shot depicts. It can be a tough watch at times, the violence it depicts is up close, in focus and very graphic, yet as the actors will attest to, handled magnificently by Considine. Dedicated "For Pauline" the Director's late Mother, in the closing credits, it's clearly a very raw and personal film for the Director.

The tension in every scene is only broken by the breather segment and welcome that is too. As for all of my film blogs I've tried not to give too many spoilers here except for the ten minute opening scene dissection above. Maybe I'll break my own rule soon and use this film as a template for a 100% spoiler, scene by scene dissection. Maybe one day. 

Written and Directed by Paddy Considine with only 19 credited cast members and 3 uncredited cast roles, Chris Baldwin and Dan Baker deserve great praise for their original music, especially the solo guitar score and a number of original songs throughout the film, with "Sing All Our Cares Away" a particular favourite. This song and many others accompany a triumph of a film which is worthy of so much praise. I add Paddy Considine to my list of favourite Directors and eagerly await his next cinematic release.

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