Actor, writer, and director Peter Mullan has a face with the emotional depth of a graveyard in a swamp. It's a cracked, craggy, Scottish face that looks like Tom Waits's voice—gallons of whiskey, decades of cigarettes, and a thousand inflections of stoicism. Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson used to be the faces of cinematic manliness: squinting, rock-solid, authoritative. Mullan's face has equal authority, but adds a layer—a layer of endurance through pain, an authority that is not earned by kicking other people's asses but by having one's ass kicked and getting up again.
Mullan's face is the star attraction of Tyrannosaur, a gritty portrait of 21st-century Britain by Paddy Considine. Mullan plays a drunken widower who lives in a cocoon of pain—his own grief and regret, wrapped in a poor neighborhood filled with abused children and shitheads with pit bulls. Olivia Colman plays a Christian woman who lives in a nice house full of even more pain—her husband (Eddie Marson) is one of those simpering, manipulative, I-hate-myself-for-hurting-you-but-I-can't-stop-hurting-you monsters who'll piss on his sleeping wife (literally) or punch her in the face and cry the next day, begging for forgiveness.
Mullan's craggy face and Colman's bruised face do a pas de deux of two wounded strangers trying to find some solace in the foggy, smoggy, gray world of UK poverty—it begins with aggression in her secondhand shop when he stumbles in, bleeding after being beaten by neighborhood thugs, looking for a little human comfort and is given philosophy. "Why are you so angry at God?" she asks. "Why are you so fucking stupid?" he shoots back. "I've met people like you all my fucking life. Goody-goodies... bake a cake, save a fucking soul. You've never eaten shit. You dunno what it's like out there. You dunna have a fucking clue."
Turns out, she does. And the way they learn about each other's saddest secrets is both harrowing and gorgeous.