16. Tyrannosaur

Director: Paddy Considine
Stars: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan

English actor turned filmmaker Paddy Considine’s unflinchingly bold Tyrannosaur has one of the bravest opening scenes imaginable: Joseph, the film’s self-destructive protagonist (played with brute force by Peter Mullan), beats his dog to death in a sudden outburst of rage. Immediately, though, he feels deep sorrow and remorse, and Considine’s task from there on out is to garner compassion for a violent canine-killer.

To say that Tyrannosaur makes you love Joseph by the end credits would be misleading, to say the least. Yet Considine, with Mullan’s grandiose performance as support, does one hell of a job of gradually peeling back all of Joseph’s layers, ultimately revealing a man whose uncontrollable fits of rage trivialize an inner, hard-to-unveil sensitivity. Joseph’s duality gets brought out by Hannah (Olivia Colman, the film’s greatest asset), a thrift shop owner he befriends in the midst of her many losing bouts against domestic violence.

Tyrannosaur challenges audiences to sympathize with a potential monster, stomach a couple of cringe-worthy moments of sexual violence, and find light at the end of its dark tunnel. The journey is, to put it lightly, harrowing, but it’s one you won’t easily forget.

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