More heartfelt than thrilling, Trespass Against Us is very well acted and surprisingly moving.
First announced back in 2013, Trespass Against Us has been a long time in the making. Now with its release four years later, it fails to live up to the expectation of being a great British crime drama but succeeds in telling a heartfelt story that is carried by its lead actors.
The film follows the story of Chad Cutler (Michael Fassbender), a member of a gypsy community who is looking to find an alternative life for him and his family. This however, proves harder than it would seem as Chad’s imposing father, Colby (Brendan Gleeson), is insistent that Chad remains with the community and continues with criminal activity for him. After a risky robbery leaves Chad exposed, he becomes more desperate than ever to escape the camp and put his past behind him.
The film’s story is not what most audiences would expect. Marketed as a crime-thriller, the film takes the tone more of a character drama and a successful one at that. The crime element, although present, is more of a secondary feature, there to supplement Chad’s conflict with his father. The film is more about the relationship between father and son as we have Col and Chad’s turbulent relationship compared with the what Chad is trying to build with his own son Tyson (Georgie Smith). It really is quite touching at times, particularly with Chad being so clearly filled with regret for his childhood, and wanting desperately for his own children’s lives to turn out differently. The traditionalist in his father however, makes this very difficult.
Fassbender and Gleeson are both exceptional, with their ability to bring Chad and Col to life really carrying the film, especially during its weaker points. The performance of Fassbender in particular really sells the character of Chad and gives the audience a sense of sympathy for a character who, on the surface, is a very flawed person. Lyndsey Marshal also does a great job as Chad’s wife, Kelly, and brings to the table a strong opponent to Gleeson’s controlling, and at time deplorable character of Colby.
The film has great soundtrack, courtesy of the Chemical Brothers, with both its intense and more serene tracks setting the tone throughout. Adam Smith’s directing is mostly good but at times the camera is incredibly shaky. This not only makes it difficult to see what’s going on in some of the film’s more action oriented scenes, but also proves to be a distraction when the camera is unnecessarily bobbing next to characters whilst they walk. Other than this, though the camera work takes full advantage of the West-England countryside, with some beautiful shots really complimenting the film’s more quiet, thoughtful moments.
The film’s ending may disappoint some, with the final fifteen minutes or so in particular going against what much of the film has built up. However, with the direction the story ends up taking, there are not many other ways it could have finished.
Trespass Against Us is a surprisingly touching drama in which lead actors Fassbender and Gleeson both bring top performances. The film is far more enjoyable if you approach it as a character drama as opposed to a crime film as the marketing suggests. Overall it is well worth a watch, if not just to see an interesting take on gypsy life in Britain.
Trespass Against Us, directed by Adam Smith, is distributed in the UK by Lionsgate. Certificate 15