Paddy Considine Creates More Space in Tyrannosaur
I just hope that people didnt get the wrong impression, that I was just out to cheaply shock, Paddy Considine muses over the phone. The British actor-turned-writer/director is proud of the Sundance success (two awards, a distribution deal) of Tyrannosaur, his debut feature, but recognizes the challenge of a movie dwelling on alcoholic rage and featuring a death blow early on to a dog. In Tyrannosaur, Peter Mullan plays Joseph, an unemployed man whose brutal streak eventually yields to sympathy after meeting Hannah (Olivia Colman), the battered wife of a drunk (Eddie Marsan). In Joseph and Hannahs connection, Considine sees a love story exploring what bonds theyll allow to be put on them.
The result, an elaboration of his prizewinning 2007 short, Dog Altogether, consists of modulated quiet, tentative communion, ramshackle absurdity, and selective flashes of sadism. Tyrannosaur is what you might expect from someone known for his collaborations with Shane Meadows in violent tragedies (A Room for Romeo Brass, Dead Mans Shoes) and, more recently, as the tormented investigator in the Red Riding trilogys second chapter. As for Considines actors, Mullan (best known for My Name Is Joe and a director himself with Neds and The Magdalene Sisters) may be an old hand at stories delving into the dark places of anger and personal torment, but Colmans performance comes as a revelation.
She went on a total transformation on this film. She became world-class, Considine says of the TV-comedy actresss reactive chops and nuanced vulnerability. And in the dramatic space the director gives to Colman and Mullans delicate dance, you can also read his own response to the frustrations of his first profession.
The things I hated about acting, I didnt want them to feel, he explains. A lot of actingpretty much 90 percentis job acting, and Im not particularly good at it. Ive been quite miserable. The films where I felt good, the director had created a playground where you feel safe.
The directors playground in this case was blue-collar and middle-class Leeds. Over the four-week shoot, Considine (who grew up on a Midlands council estate and has acknowledged personal echoes in the material) drew upon local housing-project residents for extras, including a busker.
I learned that from Pawel Pawlikowski. You go round peoples houses for tea, meet local eccentrics, he explains, name-checking his director on 2004s My Summer of Love. One perfect detaila neighbor who ties his dogs leash around his sweatpants-ed waistcame from direct observation.
I said, Excuse me, mate, is that how you walk your dog? He said, Yeah! To me, thats making films.
Tyrannosaur screens March 30 and 31
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.