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Film / Tyrannosaur

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Hannah: I feel safe with you.
Joseph: Nobody's safe with me.

Tyrannosaur is a 2011 British drama film written and directed by Paddy Considine. His feature directorial debut, the film is also an adaptation of Considine's 2007 short film Dog Altogether, and continues its story with the same main characters. It stars Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman, with Eddie Marsan, Paul Popplewell and Sally Carman in supporting roles. Mullan and Colman were both handpicked by Considine for their roles, with Considine and Colman having previously shot Hot Fuzz together.

The film follows Joseph (Mullan), a man plagued with violence and rage, and on a self-destructive downward spiral as a result. As he descends further into regret and self-loathing, he ends up in a second-hand shop, hiding after fleeing from the scene of a recent assault he inflicted.

In doing so, he meets Hannah (Colman), a Christian worker at the shop, and although he harshly rebuffs her at first, Joseph slowly finds that she may be the single grain of redemption that might restore hope to his life. Unfortunately, there is more to their relationship than meets the eye, as Hannah is hiding a secret of her own that leads to serious consequences for both of their lives.


Although the film is not completely autobiographical, Tyrannosaur depicts an environment similar to what Considine witnessed growing up on a council estate in the Midlands. Also, in writing Dog Altogether, Considine based the character of Joseph loosely off his late father (also named Joseph), naming the short after a saying his father used to define a bad situation.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Sam's mother isn't so bad, but her idiotic, wannabe-tough guy boyfriend is. It's also all-but-stated that Joseph's father was abusive to him, judging by his brief comments on him and how he views his neighbor's dog, telling it that being violent isn't the dog's fault, it's the owner.
  • The Alcoholic: Hannah copes with her bleak homelife by drinking, in a quiet subdued way that few would see clearly.
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  • Anti-Hero: Joseph, who opens the film by killing his dog.
  • Asshole Victim: When you're capable of provoking a sweet, religious charity shop worker into killing you, clearly you did something wrong. And James did many things wrong to Hannah.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Played with. Joe opens the film by kicking his adorable dog to death. However, he feels terrible about it and atones by...killing a dog. However, this time he did it because the dog had been abused by Sam's mother's awful boyfriend into attacking Sam and goring his face.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The reason Joseph went into Hannah's shop in the first place.
    Joseph: I know you asked me once about why I went in the shop but I never told you. I didn't go in there looking for God. I just went there because apart from Sam, you were the only person that smiled at me around here. And I wanted it. I wanted it to soak into me and brighten me up. I thought you were beautiful. I just wanted to look at you. That's all.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: James, an upstanding pillar of the community, and an abusive wife-beating sack of shit.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Hannah's in prison for killing James and Sam has been horribly mauled by his mother's boyfriend's dog, but the dog is dead by Joseph's hand, sparing Sam further harm, and Joseph and Hannah are still friends. They still have someone who cares about them in each other, which is more than they had a year prior.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Nobody can be said to be purely good in this movie.
  • Book Ends: The film opens with the death of Joseph's sweet dog after he kicks him. It closes with Joseph going (briefly) to prison for killing Sam's mother's boyfriend's dog after said dog scars his face.
  • Broken Bird: Hannah has been broken by years of horrific abuse at her husband's hands.
  • Dead All Along: James, after he rapes Hannah.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Hannah murders her husband James, who has spent years sadistically abusing her to make himself feel better about his own inherent weakness.
  • Domestic Abuse: One of the most terrifying examples on film in form of James' treatment of Hannah.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Joe opens the film by getting deeply angry about something and kicking his dog so hard it dies the next day. He tenderly carries the dog home, hating himself for losing his temper so badly.
    • James appears first on film by coming home late and urinating on the apparently sleeping Hannah.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: When it comes to picking a title, anyway.
  • Faux Affably Evil: James, who puts on a friendly and polite facade to cover up his true colors as a Domestic Abuser.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Joe's greatest flaw.
  • Hate Sink: James is a repulsive Domestic Abuser and rapist with no redeeming qualities.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: It's highly debatable, but Joseph seems to be this. He's aggressive, violent and crude, but there are good aspects to him and he gradually grows protective of Hannah.
  • Kick the Dog: How the story opens, no less. Less literal examples of the trope also occur throughout the film, the most frequent source being James.
  • Killed Offscreen: James, after he finally pushes poor Hannah too far.
  • Morality Pet: Sam, the kid who lives down Joe's street, is this for him. Hannah seems like she might be, but it's played with in that Joe switches between being kind and cruel to her.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Nope, despite the poster and the title this movie has absolutely nothing to do with dinosaurs whatsoever.
  • The Midlands: The setting.
  • Pet the Dog: Also a literal example. After kicking his dog to death, Joe is visibly horrified and tenderly carries the dog home as it dies.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Although he physically abused her for years, Hannah killed James because he raped her.
  • The Reveal: Hannah killed James the night he raped her.
  • Shadow Archetype: James for Joe. Both are extremely violent men but, while Joe kills his beloved dog, he is shown to try and avoid taking it out on people, preferring to hammer his shed down. He also mocked his wife for her weight, but still loved her, feels a great deal of remorse, and misses her desperately. James is a Domestic Abuser and violent rapist who shows zero remorse for his crimes.
  • The Sociopath: James, who physically abuses Hannah and even rapes her later on, all without a shed of remorse.
  • Stepford Smiler: Both Hannah and James, who are Christian pillars of the community. In reality, James beats his wife and is horrifyingly cruel to her, sending her into alcoholism.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The women who answer Hannah's phone for her after she collapses drunk in the city centre. They're trying to help her, but weren't to know that they sent her home with her extremely violent husband who she murdered after he raped her that night.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: James uses his public image as an upstanding pillar of the community to hide his true personality.
  • Wrestler of Beasts: Invoked and deconstructed. Joe kills the violent pitbull that mauled and permanently scarred Sam. He tells Hannah that he still gets letters congratulating him on making a stand, but that he feels no personal triumph from it because the dog itself was only aggressive because it had been abused by Sam's mother's boyfriend.