Film & TV

British Film Festival Review: Trespass Against Us

The eldest son of a criminal family is torn between his duty to his father and a desire to give his wife and kids a better life away from his own upbringing.

This film focusses on the sometimes-conflicting emotional bonds of family set amongst a clan of outlaws living in the Irish countryside. Their internal conflicts are compounded by constant conflict with local authorities, leading some to question the legitimacy of their criminal lifestyle.

Chad Cutler (Michael Fassbender), the eldest son of controlling clan leader Colby Cutler (Brendan Gleeson), lives with his wife and two young children in a small settlement of caravans surrounded by a chaotic mix of Irish outlaws. Chad struggles between what he feels he owes his manipulative criminal father, and his own desire for a better life for his family. He is completely stuck between the criminal life he has inherited of stealing cars and not caring a fig for laws or social niceties, and wanting his own children to have a safe up-bringing and decent education.

As Chad’s troubles with the local police escalate, the pressure on him to make a decision increases. Does he escape his father’s socially-dysfunctional dominance or continue to submit to it and have his children follow his own uneducated, foul-mouthed and criminal upbringing?

In this Irish interpretation of being between a rock and a hard place, Fassbender delivers a steady performance as the morally troubled Chad balancing his divided family loyalties however, it is obvious that Fassbender warmed more to his character’s criminal side than to his role as a concerned father.

Gleeson is quietly troubling in his subtle interpretation of the sly, manipulative ways of his character, successfully playing the dumb victim when needed and at other times barely containing a menacing violence against those who oppose him.

Lyndsey Marshal (Chad’s wife Kelly) perfectly captures a mother’s struggle to give her children a better life, especially against her criminally committed father-in-law. As well as presenting the face of a strong-willed wife who stands up to anyone in defence of her children, Marshal also reveals a weaker, beaten down side of Kelly, reminding the audience of the continuous struggles she faces against the stubborn men of the outlaw clan, unfortunately including her own husband.

Trespass Against Us is an interesting look at the family values of those who care for almost nothing else, and the struggles created by family bonds, both healthy and unhealthy.

Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Twitter: @Georgie_xox

Rating out of 10: 7

Tresspass Against Us will screen again on 12, 18 and 21 November for the BBC First British Film Festival, which runs 3 – 23 November 2016 exclusively at the Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas.

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