For a film written in only one week, it would be fair to assume the end result would be disappointing but in the case of actor-turned-director Paddy Considine, his first feature is gritty, raw and utterly compelling.

 Though be warned that this is not an easy watch. To give some idea of what to expect, the protagonist Joseph (Peter Mullan) kicks his own dog to death in a drunken rage within the first two minutes. From such a description it is clear that Joseph is rather the anti-hero of the story and though he often expresses grief at his actions he continues to verbally abuse just about everyone within shouting radius. One day he encounters Hannah (Olivia Colman), a kindly charity shop worker who does her best to help him only to be insulted in return. Being middle class Joseph mocks her religious beliefs and charity work and tells her she knows nothing of the suffering he has experienced. Little does he know that life with her abusive husband (Eddie Marsan) is a living hell.

 Essentially Tyrannosaur follows two damaged people who find some comfort in each other’s company and shows the juxtaposition in the way they death with their pain; Joseph is perpetually angry whereas Hannah spends her time wishing to help others and ease their sorrow despite being alone in her own suffering.

 Often found in comedic roles, Colman is the undoubted star of the film. She gives an absolutely devastating performance as Hannah and gives one of the best performances of the year. There was outrage last year when she failed to be nominated for an Oscar. She is completely heartbreaking, her every expression an attempt to put on a brave face. The conflict behind her eyes as she struggles to tell her husband she loves him and her breakdown toward the end are both superbly acted. Mullan also gives an outstanding performance as a man struggling to come to terms with his anger and turn his life around.

 Eddie Marsan, often known to play villains is also terrifying as Hannah’s husband and there is true tension every time Hannah returns home from work to face him. Shot in muted colours to highlight the realism, many scenes will make you want to turn away. Undeniably powerful, Tyrannosaur is filled with despair and will haunt you for days but is so beautifully acted that it is certainly one of the best British films of last year. Though you may need a stiff drink afterwards!

Verdict: *****


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