Trespass Against Us (2017)

February 25th, 2017
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Adam Smith; Cast: Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Lindsey Marshal, Georgie Smith, Rory Kinnear, Sean Harris; UK 2016, 99 min.

The British crime family thriller – almost a sub genre since Get Carter and The Krays – has always been popular. Here Adam Smith and his scriptwriter Alastair Siddons focus on another British crime family but are never quiet sure if they want to go for thrills or a salient message.

From the chaotic opening scenes, the Cutler family is introduced to us as a wild bunch: at the wheel is young Tyson (G. Smith), not out of primary school, but hell-bent on copying his elders. Colby (Gleeson), the family patriarch, is a poor-man’s Kray: never having learned to read, he goes with the Creation theory; somehow you could sell him the idea that the earth is flat. Tyson’s father Chad (Fassbender), is the brains of the family – even though his father kept him successfully out of school. Chad and his wife Kelly (Marshal) want to cut all ties with Colby and his mad crowd, who live in a caravan camp in Gloucestershire. Kelly and Chad want to move out, starting a new life with Tyson and his little sister. But Colby is possessive, and he uses Tyson as a pawn to keep the family together: Tyson is obviously drawn to his grandfather, who promises a life without sweat but high rewards. The family crisis is finally solved by the police, when PC Lovage (Kinnear), Chad’s nemesis, arrests him, after the robbery of a country mansion, which belongs to a very important member of the establishment.

Dog-lovers would probably be best to avoid Trespass, as there are some rather unsavoury moments, mostly involving Gordon (Harris), a mentally disturbed young man, running around half-naked in the camp, and enjoying cruel games. Although the car chases are exciting, and there is the occasional original idea (Chad hiding below a cow, as not to be spotted from the helicopters trying to trace him), Trespass suffers from the indecision of its filmmakers: Chad is shown as a rebel with a cause, but he seems to be putty in the hands of his father, whilst being a mastermind as a thief. Surely, since his father just sits around sprouting out his imbecile slogans, Chad has the upper-hand, since there would be no income for the clan, if he would leave.

But the botched ending shows that he is just in as much in love with a romantic-outsider existence as his father. DoP Eduard Grau (A Single Man) delivers professional images, but cannot save the cliché-ridden narrative. The cast is lead by Gleeson, who obviously enjoys himself, whilst Fassbender portrays his unease and ambivalence with a reserved performance, only really coming alive in the scenes with his son. Smith and Siddons have the setting for an original clan-crime story, but waste it with a story which falls between all stools: having built up excitement, they don’t know where to take it and could have learned so much from past master Thomas Hardy, whose novels of family crime in the rural West are full of drama and destructive passion. AS


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