The Cutlers are a bad lot. With patriarch Colby (Brendan Gleeson) at the head of the family they lead a life exiled from society and even from the Gloucestershire travelling community they are part of. No one wants them around. Constantly hounded by police but never with enough to warrant arrest they are on the fringes of society,
Chad (Michael Fassbender) wants better for his family though. He wants to escape the vipers nest and find something more normal for his family. Colby’s influence though stretches far and deep into Chad’s life and it will only be through desperate means that he is able to fully escape.
On paper Adam Smith’s directorial debut has much going for it. Top quality actors in interesting roles and an interesting family dynamic should be enough to propel this film into the ranks of ‘quiet classic’.
The film’s opening indicates a film of great pace, excitement as the camera chases a hare with some of our miscreants in pursuit. This old age practice of coursing indicating that the chase is on but leaving open the key question of who the prey really is.
It is a shame then that the film never quite maintains the engrossing pace of its opening. While the tensions are well managed they never quite reach the point of full explosion. This isdespite the best efforts of those involved. Every moment of interaction between Gleeson and Fassbender draws the viewer in but ultimately proves to be a false dawn as the cauldron of contempt never fully boils over.
Another flaw that the film suffers from is the relationship between Chad and his wife Kelly (Lynsdey Marshal). Early in the film she repeats her desire to leave, her need for Chad to stand up to his Dad and walk away from this group of exiles. She wants something more 'normal' for her kids, she has aspirations of a better life. She doesn't want her son to fall under Colby's spell even though he is already enchanting the young boy like a moth to a flame. As the film progresses this elelment of the story becomes side tracked in the lack lustre father/son drama and the always present threat from local police.
There are elements of the film that are to be praised however. Fassbender and Gleeson while never quite reaching top gear still give strong performances. Subtle glances are the key currency in this film and are are to be admired as they are executed quietly but withlethal intent.
Chad's interactions with his own son are heartwarming and endearing. It is also clear that depite its lack of attention in story term Chad and Kelly are very much in it together, fiercely devoted to each other depite their circumstances.
Trespass Against Us is not a bad film. There are many things that make it appeal and the story is compelling enough to recommend it overall. Sadly though, it never reaches the heights that I hoped it would and this may indeed be its greatest sin.
Trespass Against Us is in cinemas from 3rd March.