Trespass Against Us is a British-American film directed by Alastair Siddons, starring national treasures Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson. The film tells the story of an outlaw family and a heist that goes awfully wrong.
The trailer doesn’t do the film justice and the critical reception was mixed, scoring only 54% on Rotten Tomatoes (a very low score for the film’s potential). So if you’re one of those people who look at reviews before watching a film or if Michael Fassbender’s chiseled jawline is not a good enough reason to go and watch it, here are 4 other reason that will hopefully convince you:
1) Amazing Performances:
Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson certainly meet all the expectations you could have for two class actors. Having missed the acclaimed Macbeth and The Light Between Oceans, I haven’t seen Fassbender in such a good role since Frank. Having him again in a role where he doesn’t just have to look sad and mildly constipated while moving metals around was refreshing. He is brilliant as Chad Cutler, an experienced robber, the head of his family and, most importantly, his father’s son. His combination of vulnerability and strength makes the character relatable and distant at the same time, making you root for him even though you know he is on the wrong side.
On his part, Brendan Gleeson does an amazing job at playing Chad’s father, Colby Cutler. The head of the family and the man of the house by every standard definition. As someone who grew up with him as the quirky Mad-Eye Moody, I never thought I could despise him. His character is annoying, in your face and agressive. This character is completely different from the endearing priest he portrayed in Calvary, but the performance is just as powerful and complex. His time on screen is relatively short, but his scenes are as powerful as his character is obnoxious.
2) The Father-Son Relationship:
Fassbender’s and Gleeson’s performances truly come together when they share the screen. Colby Cutler is a true man’s man. He is an emotional bully. He builds the world according to his own reality and uses religion as an instrument: the Earth is flat, the travellers are descendants of the Israelites, him and his family are too strong to comply to social institutions like the police or schools. He claims the same authority and respect in his social circles, but particularly in his relationship with his son, sometimes even defying his authority in front of his own children. On the other side, Fassbender as Chad Cutler is the head of his own family trying to create the best circumstances for his children. It is here where him and his father clash. While Chad wants to create for them the future he never had, his father strongly believes that their family’s strength lies in preserving their lifestyle: a lifestyle that involves crime, but in his eyes also strong family ties and power. He repeatedly tramples his son’s authority and attempts to make a better future for himself,desperately clinging onto onto his patriarchal role.
3) Power Relations:
Presented through the father-son dynamics but also on a larger social level. With Chad Cutler at the centre, the whole film seems to be centred on who overpowers everyone else in any given situation. It is interesting to see how Chad, an alpha male in his community, cowers in front of his father, unable to confront him. His vulnerability is subtly represented through the fact that he can’t read (the result of his father’s decision to not send him to school). This is a man who lives in a cut-throat world. His father’s repeated speeches about power and superiority make it obvious that he is expected to always be strong and always come on top. Yet, this basic inability to read makes him endearingly vulnerable in the world, the lack of an education leaves him unable to stand up for himself or even be a worthy role model for his children. It is also quite uncomfortable to notice the power dynamics that as a society we became numb to, namely the police abusing their authority in their relationship with the traveller community. They are allowed to raid their homes without notice, take their children away and abuse their power because they know that nobody will care, which should race some uncomfortable questions among the audience.
4) Changing The Viewer’s Gaze:
A sign of a good movie is when it makes you forget about social barriers and sympathise with the characters. Trespass Against Us approaches the ostracised traveller community and presents their dynamics, their ways of making a living and their relationships in a way that makes the viewer see the underlining goals that we all share: difficult relationships with our parents, wanting to fit into society, a better future for our children. It is true that the characters are built in a cinematic way to tell a certain story of family bonds, living outside the law, living as a second class citizen. But nonetheless, it makes you think of the Chad Cutlers out there, who are not given a chance to overcome their condition and background, and are trapped in a loop of criminality that is going to be transmitted generation to generation. By showing universal things like family love, hopes for a better future and even the difficult dialogue that arises between generations when priorities change, the film makes you see beyond ethnicity and social status and opens the viewer up, even if only for the short duration of the film, to a world they would not have otherwise accessed.
Trespass Against Us is in cinemas nationwide from March 3rd 2017.