starring Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan
written and directed by Paddy Considine
by Angelo Muredda Spielberg defenders who insist their master hasn't lost his grisly touch post-E.T. often point to the dead dog in The Lost World: Jurassic Park as proof of life. If dispatching a pooch is still the fastest way to collect a certificate of edginess, props to Paddy Considine, who's surely earned a gilded plaque for getting the unseemly job done before the opening credits of his first feature. (Not that animal lovers should take the title card as a cue to uncover their eyes.) Actor-turned-director Considine immediately stakes his claim to Ken Loach's British underclass miserablism, casting My Name Is Joe star Peter Mullan as the dog-stomper in question. But there's miserable...and then there's Tyrannosaur. Loach's best films have an incendiary quality, a direct line to the political, that Considine buries under a fast-mounting heap of dead dogs. Certainly, there's no requirement that directors who train their eyes on such bleak social milieus mitigate the darkness and usher us out the door with sunshine: comparable films like Lynne Ramsay's Ratcatcher stay successfully mired in the mud without collapsing into nihilism. That said, what we might expect of a project so invested in the stultifying effects of poverty is a better sense of what's eating its characters, rather than platitudes arguing that to be poor and male in Northern England is to be a bat-wielding tyrant whose empty rage extends even to canines.