Trespass Against Us
dir Adam Smith
scr Alastair Siddons
prd Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan, Alastair Siddons
with Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Lyndsey Marshal, Rory Kinnear, Georgie Smith, Kacie Anderson, Sean Harris, Killian Scott, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Gerard Kearns, Tony Way, Peter Wight
release US 24.Nov.16, UK 3.Mar.17
16/UK Film4 1h39
Trespass Against Us
Sweet dreams: Fassbender and Marshal

gleeson kinnear harris
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Trespass Against Us Like a slap in the face, this edgy Irish comedy-drama comes at the audience at full tilt and never really lets up. This is a story about a family stuck in a cycle of ignorance and criminality, and writer Alastair Siddons and director Adam Smith take an approach that's unapologetic. The plot isn't hugely developed, and the message is rather muddled, but the sharp cast keeps it entertaining.

Chad (Fassbender) is caught between generations. He wants his children (Smith and Anderson) to go to school and learn to read, unlike him. But he's bound to his patriarchal father Colby (Gleason), who rules their small circle of caravans with a casual swagger and an unwavering mistrust of anything even remotely new. Chad's wife Kelly (Marshal) wants out of this place even more than he does, and she hates that his inability to stop participating in the gang's thieving raids is putting her family in jeopardy.

Filmmaker Smith maintains a refreshing complexity in both the premise and the sharply played characters. Fassbender nicely underplays Chad's internal dilemma, but then he's a chip off Colby's casual control-freak block. Both actors add a laconic charm to their characters, laid back but ready to bite at any moment. Watching them both individually is fascinating, and when they're in a scene together we want to hide behind the sofa. This is a vivid clash between generations that's full of authentic grit and larger thematic resonance.

Other characters are less defined but have vivid presence. Marshal's Kelly is tough-minded and desperate to protect her family and sort out her man. When she locks horns with Colby, it feels like he's met his match, except that he simply refuses to be challenged by a woman. Kinnear brings some goofy charm to his indefatigable cop character, who's like Wile E Coyote to Chad's Road Runner. Harris is a colourful distraction as a madman who's allowed to run wild and endanger the children and their pets only because he's part of the family.

Where all of this is heading isn't terribly clear, as the filmmakers seem to want to celebrate this destructive lifestyle even as the story centres on people trying to get out. This somewhat muddled point of view leaves the audience with little to think about after the gleefully anarchic final sequence. But it does leave us smiling. Once we catch our breath.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 13.Oct.16 lff

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