Recent investigations in paleontology have been exploring a highly controversial topic – contrary to popular belief, there may be evidence that Tyrannosaurus rex may have been a scavenger instead of a predator. The implications are striking – a fearsome creature with a reputation for predating relentlessly upon weaker dinosaurs that may actually be the sort of creature that avoids others and emerges only in moments of most dire need.

Whatever the case, the mechanisms underlying it are pure, evolutionary instincts – the primal, base instinct of violence and self-preservation. The opening scene of Tyrannosaur is brutal in its display of these very drives, and ruthlessly claws with raw fingers through delicate social convention to reveal the darker and more desperate aspects of human nature. What results is not only sharp and visceral, but a thoughtful and understated character study of breaking points and catharsis.

In the vein of last year’s NEDS and the British New Wave tradition of gritty social realism à la Nil by Mouth and Ken Loach films, Tyrannosaur is as grey and hapless as the industrial north England sky. These drops of grey fall between the cracks in characters’ facades, eroding them away from single dimensionality and into highly nuanced beings. Morality is a moot point, and Considine deals no preacher’s hand nor condemning fist: each character is singularly broken in a wretched way, and are not so much redeemed, but turned to the side to reveal a different facet.

At the heart of the film are the two lead performances of Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman, who do not fail for a moment in earning one’s pity and temperance with utter realism.Their characters’ relationship begins as tense and precarious, and develops in a beautifully natural way into a warm rapport and bond that is unsullied by a contrived romance. The characters, as broken as they are, find an unlikely sense of security and safety in the other. Thankfully, the relationship is not contingently overwhelming, and neither falls in love desperately – trust balances on a hesitant and perilous rope between them, and there is nothing unconditional in their arrangement. Yet, the warmth is there, and with the knowledge that they will get better before they get worse.

Despite the overwhelming tendency in cinema to harbour the clichéd route of a maudlin denouement, Considine bravely steers away from this: it is not alright, nor will it go away. However, there is the imminent spot of light through the clouds, the rose through the cement (and here I was condemning cliché). Despite the overarching bleakness, there are moments of levity which don’t debilitate the narrative, but add an authenticity that is lost in similar films which attempt to explore the kitchen sink drama. It is heartrending but never heartless, and unfolds as naturally and unpredictably as a drop of ink into a glass of water. Most importantly, it is exceedingly unglamorous, and that is the point. For every bit of dark, there is some light; for every drop of blood, there is a drop of tea. The situation is not perfect – but that’s alright.

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