The audience sits stunned. As the credits roll you can hear the deep intakes of breath as everyone absorbs Paddy Considine’s directorial debut, Tyrannosaur.
I look across at my house mate and she slowly shakes her head: “Mate… wow. All I can say is, wow.”
We weren’t prepared for this. I mean, we’d heard the film was ‘powerful’ but this takes it to a new level. I think I need a chocolate doughnut and a large glass of wine to recover.
That is until Considine himself takes to the stage to field questions from the very keen yet emotionally raw audience at Manchester’s Cornerhouse.
The award-winning actor from Burton-on-Trent has a history of outstanding performances in cult hits such as Dead Man’s Shoes and is known as one British film’s best kept secrets. He is also a long-term friend of film maker Shane Meadows, who cast him in the lead role for the hilarious Room For Romeo Brass.
But for his latest film, Considine takes a step back from acting to get behind the camera as director. He explains: “I always felt that I had my own stories to tell. I wanted to show people what my voice was. It just spewed out of me – I just had to write it.”
Brave, brutal yet beautiful, Tyrannosaur is a powerful portrayal of domestic violence and redemption, telling the tale of two people brought together in an unlikely relationship.
Joseph (Peter Mullan), an alcoholic plagued by his violent temper, meets Hannah (Olivier Colman, Sophie from Peep Show), a kind Christian charity shop worker.
Bitter about the state of his own life, Joseph is quick to judge Hannah as a middleclass do-gooder with no concept of the real world. But when she turns up to work with two black eyes, he soon realises that her life is anything but normal behind the net curtains.
Now be warned, the violence and abuse that the characters are forced to endure is truly harrowing to watch – within the first two minutes Joseph has kicked his dog to death in a drunken rage. A Staffordshire Bull Terrier also falls victim to mistreatment later on.
So I ask Considine about that particular scene and why the violence was extended to animals as well as humans. He shuffles in his seat and answers:
“Right, I didn’t want to make a film to deliberately shock people for the sake of it or just make a controversial film.
“The dogs, like the people, are victims and that’s the whole point. Everyone is forced to be something they’re not through no fault of their own.”
An audience member asks Considine whether his work is politically motivated at all and it’s clear that he is reluctant to be pigeon-holed as a working-class hero:
“I was never interested in any social realism but I suppose you write what you know and I come from a working-class background, and a lot of what I write is about me making sense of things around me.
“I just wanted to make a film about survival and how redemption doesn’t come from obvious places.”
And he’s right, Tyrannosaur is not just another gritty British drama. The stunning visuals, soundtrack and outstanding performances from Mullan and Colman make this film essential viewing.
Considine adds: “I didn’t want to make a shoddy looking film with hand held cameras. We’re making a f***king movie, not a little British film to feel embarrassed about.”
Well there is nothing to be embarrassed about here Mr Considine. Tyrannosaur is a brilliant debut and you can tell that behind the camera is a man at his creative peak.
Tyrannosaur is out now.
Watch the official clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvyqXFmV-LI
For more information about upcoming films and events at Cornerhouse go to: http://www.cornerhouse.org/film