Michael Fassbender is one of those actors who can do no wrong. In fact, it’s infuriating to think of his enormous body of work and realise that he hasn’t phoned in a performance yet. Even in terrible films such as Jonah Hex and, recently, Assassin’s Creed, Fassbender has always put in such amazing work. The man put on a ruddy great big paper mache head for Frank and evocatively played with our emotions was tickling our funny bones at the same time. The Irish-German performer can do no wrong and with two Academy Award nominations, it doesn’t look as though he is stopping.
In the stripped back British crime drama Trespass Against Us, he is as fiery and talented as anything – making for a truly visceral experience.
Chad (Fassbender) and Colby (Gleeson) are a father and son duo team who live on a caravan park in Britain’s countryside and commit crimes with a ragtag bunch of hellions. As Chad’s own son starts to grow old, Chad begins to worry about the criminal lifestyle he has been groomed into.
Trespass Against Us is one of the few films that have (has) genuinely surprised me in the slew of Oscar dramas, toe-tapping musicals, and sub-par crime swill. There is a genuine beat of heart that flows through it and that is captured in the believable relationship between Brendon Gleeson and Michael Fassbender. The latter provides much of the catalyst that drives the movie forward; the pull inwards to the criminal lifestyle that he had been raised within and the push outwards to a better life for his family as his young children start to become accustomed to a world outside of society and law.
All of this is leveed in Fassbender’s stirring performance. As Chad, he is a believable rogue with enough clout to realise that his family ways are detrimental to his kin and his long-suffering wife Kelly who stands by him despite her wariness at Colby. Lyndsey Marshal is a great component in the film that works wonderfully against Fassbender’s rambunctious but trying Chad. As Kelly, Marshal may seem archetypal of a women who stands by her man no matter what, but the actress layers the woman with her own agency that it is impossible not to warm to her or feel sympathy for her situation.
Brendan Gleeson is on form as usual but his gravitas is heavily underused as the focus steers into Chad’s growth.
There are ridiculous moments. Rory Kinnear’s villainous cop who seems to bend the rules in his hell-bent way of catching is an over the top element of the movie. For a start, the police are portrayed as these bumbling officers who are trying to separate the family when, in actual fact, they are just doing their jobs against actual criminals who do, in fact, commit crime. While one could say that this is a comment on how corrupt police officers are when it comes to the poor or lower-class, it falls flat as a sentiment with Kinnear wailing, punching, and generally feeling like a dickhead in black trousers.
Trespass Against Us isn’t the drama of the year but certainly is full of compelling surprises. The grimy habitat mixed with the sublime countryside allows a battle of wills in one man to unfold. Visceral at times as well as compelling until the end, the finale will have you choking back tears whilst feeling strangely warmed in the heart. Pleasantly surprising indeed.
Warning: If you like dogs, however, I wouldn’t watch it.
Trespass Against Us is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!