Paddy Considine's debut feature, developed from his short film Dog Altogether (2007), is a grimly affecting study in male rage.
Peter Mullan plays unemployed widower and drinker Joseph, so convulsed with fury that he can barely live with himself. In the first five minutes he kicks his beloved dog to death, smashes a post-office window and has a fight in a bar. Then he encounters charity shop volunteer Hannah (Olivia Colman) who, despite his vicious verbals, offers to pray for him – and an awkward friendship starts to grow, like poppies in a minefield. But Hannah herself is slowly revealed as damaged herself, living in terror of her abusive husband (Eddie Marsan). Considine evokes a bleak half-world of dingy boozers and bookies, of forlorn single-parent families and attack dogs almost as violent as their owners. It's a provincial version of Gary Oldman's Nil by Mouth, in which volcanically angry men hand on misery to men, to children, and to the women they are meant to love. It's hard to watch at times, though made with an intensity and artfulness you never for a moment doubt.