TIFF’11 Review: Tyrannosaur

September 22, 2011 — 8 Comments

Tyrannosaur is proof positive that you can make a film too dark, too depressing, too bleak. Director Paddy Considine introduced the screening by saying that Tyrannosaur is a film to endure more than enjoy. He was exactly right. There was almost nothing to enjoy in the film, and for the most part it played as a terrible endurance test, both of my ability to withstand overwhelmingly trite bleakness as well as my patience for boring cliche.

Tyrannosaur tells the story of a very violent man forming a bond with a woman stuck in an incredibly psychopathic, abusive marriage. Considine doesn’t hold back. He fills the film with as much dark, awful material as possible. Yelling, insults, dog-killing, urinating on people, severe beatings, the mauling of a child, rape, murder. There’s no end to it, and I could not stand it.

That’s not to say that I can’t handle such material. I love dark movies, and often the darker the better. But the darkness must have a purpose. If all we get from Tyrannosaur is a guy learning to be less angry and a woman learning she doesn’t have to put up with abuse, then the level of violence and horror does little more than blunt the impact of those themes. It’s a bad movie, with little to say, and content that is so hard to stomach that it almost becomes laughable.


8 responses to TIFF’11 Review: Tyrannosaur


    Interesting. I just came over here to read your review after listening to Kermode’s review and to his and Mayo’s interview with Considine and Colman; they all had me intrigued, convinced I wanted to see the film. Now, after reading your review, I’m not so sure! Why do you think it is that so many are responding so positively and you are not?


      From what I gathered from those I spoke with, the main thing was the relationship between Mullen and Coleman. I think people felt that relationship was so genuine that it made the unsavory aspects of the film more palatable. Like it all informed character.

      My problem was that the situations felt contrived and went way too far, and because of that the relationship couldn’t overcome any of it. I will say that the actors are excellent, and had the film been written better, I probably would have absolutely adored it for them alone.


    Hmmm, well, I’m conflicted, then, about seeing it. I love a good performance, a deep exploration of character, but I flinch at putting myself through the horrible situations, especially if you think they don’t seem genuine.


      Well, I’ll put it like this. The film got a standing ovation. Almost everyone around me was head over heels for it. I am distinctly in the minority here, and everybody thought I was crazy for not finding it genuine. Even I have considered whether I should give it a re-watch. Seeing it right after the gut punch of Take Shelter might not have helped me either.


    Well, I suppose the only way I’ll know what I think is if I see it for myself – there’s the rub!

    It is interesting how circumstances can affect how we receive a film – your having just watched Take Shelter may have affected you, and who knows, maybe the rest of the viewers in your screening would be less enthusiastic had they not been at a festival together. Easy to get caught up in the general excitement, or so I’ve heard, right? I suppose we can never manufacture ideal, neutral circumstances in which to see any film – there’s no such thing, really, is there?

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  1. TIFF’11: The Great Wrap-Up! « justAtad - September 23, 2011

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