Trespass Against Us
Trespass Against Us is a film that, much to its detriment, is very similar to it’s main character in that it fails to make good on its promises. However, while Chad (played by Michael Fassbender) makes promises that involve the all-too-familiar attempted abandonment of crime for a “quiet life” at the behest of his long-suffering wife, the movie promises great scenes of conflict that simply never come.
The plot centres around a small-time traveller crime family, led by the Machiavellian “King” Colby Cutler (Brendan Gleeson), who masterminds and manipulates various lawless schemes that land his son Chad in a spot of bother.
Masterful though Fassbender and Gleeson both are at fostering tension in their acting, the movie itself never follows through with the big blowouts and/or resolutions that the audience expects and craves as a result. Instead, they are presented with an ending that is far too saccharine to be satisfying after all of the festering resentment we see between the members of the family.
It is all too obvious that Trespass Against Us is director Adam Smith’s first feature-length film. If nothing else, the jumbled tone would be enough to indicate that he’s not used to handling fictional narratives longer than 60 minutes.
However, Alastair Siddons’s screenplay also leaves a little to be desired. Sean Harris is utterly wasted in his role as the rabid Gordon, an indulgent character who does almost nothing to drive the plot. Animal metaphors are often muddled and not remotely subtle and, ultimately, it all counts for naught as very little in the plot is ever fully resolved. In that sense, Trespass Against Us is arguably true to life, because it demonstrates the relentless cycle of poverty and crime, however, it does not make for satisfying storytelling.
With that being said, much of Smith’s film is frustratingly good; it teases the audience by alternating disappointments with strokes of genius. For example, Smith hits a perfectly poignant note as Chad sits in his son’s primary school classroom, surrounded by colourful decorations on which are written words that Chad, who never went to school or even learned to read, can’t understand.
The car chases are excellently shot, and Fassbender evokes the unshakable cool of Ryan Gosling in Drive as his character wields a hatchback like an urban assault vehicle. And the scene in which Chad is on the run from the police in the dead of night stands out particularly vividly as an excellent sequence, culminating in the most heart-wrenching acting to be seen from a man wearing a balaclava. Fassbender’s ability to either remove or bare the soul from behind his eyes is what makes his talent so formidable, and is what helps him carry films like this one.
Trespass Against Us will likely divide audiences because of it’s many redeeming features. Ultimately, Fassbender and Gleeson offer up some fantastic performances, but they are let down by a film that fails to deliver any of the conflict it promises.
Trespass Against Us is released nationwide on 3rd March 2017.