Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson in a scene from the movie Trespass Against Us.
Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson in a scene from the movie Trespass Against Us.

MOVIE REVIEW: Trespass Against Us a 'tender' crime film

MICHAEL Fassbender does his best work when his back is against the ropes (Shame, Hunger, and one might provocatively argue, Steve Jobs).

So it is with this lean, mean British crime drama in which the Irish actor goes head-to-head with fellow thespian heavyweight Brendan Gleeson.

In this cinematic equivalent of a heavyweight title-fight, it's the audience that wins.

There are dysfunctional families and then there are the Cutlers, a wild, anarchic bunch of outlaws that have set up camp in the lush English countryside.

Colby Cutler (Gleeson), a charismatic ex-con with a colourful turn of phrase, rules over this fiefdom-on-the-fringes with an iron fist and an idiosyncratic belief system. (The earth is flat, Jesus was killed by the police, school is a waste of time).

Thanks to Colby's extreme anti-authoritarian views, his eldest son Chad (Fassbender) is uneducated and illiterate.

But what he lacks in academic prowess, Chad makes up for with street-smarts ... no one can drive a getaway car like him, or evade a police chase with such ingenuity.

(In one scene Chad hides under a cow to avoid detection by a police helicopter equipped with night vision. As his Dad rightly says, "they don't teach you that at school”.)

Perhaps the main point of difference between Colby and Chad is the latter's choice of life partner. Unlike the rest of the clan, Kelly (Lyndsey Marshal) is prepared to stand up to her father -in-law.

Wanting a better life for his own kids, Chad tries to make a break. But it's not that easy.

The stakes are raised when the country manor Colby orders Chad to rob turns out to be home to a high-ranking judge. The might of English law enforcement rains down upon the gang.

Trespass Against Us doesn't follow the classic crime drama trajectory, because at heart, it's really a story about fathers and sons.

The resolution is surprisingly tender.

Trespass Against us is now screening (opened Thursday, February 16).


Director: Adam Smith

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Lyndsey Marshal

Rating: MA15+

Running time: 98 minutes

Verdict: Three and a half stars. Gritty British crime drama.

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