Review: Trespass Against Us

What happens when you go to the movies with a couple of people and end up being the only one who kind of liked it? You start looking for explanations and attempt to defend your views on why it was not a waste of time. That is exactly what happend yesterday, when we got to see Trespass Against Us [IMDb, Trailer (YouTube)]. So, here goes my attempt to explain, why I did not completely dislike this one:

Chad Cutler (Michael Fassbender) lives with his wife Kelly (Lyndsey Marshal) and his children Tyson and Mini somewhere in the countryside of England. However, if you are now thinking of a cozy cottage or a homely farm, you are very wrong. They live in a trailer, which belongs to a camp of pariahs, led by Chad’s father Colby (Brendan Gleeson). He does not believe in society and its values and preaches his questionable views to his followers and their kids. As you might expect, none of them has a normal job, but instead they are responsible for a series of burglaries in the surrounding area. Usually in the lead, because he is still the smartest of the bunch, despite a glaring lack of formal education: Chad. Actually in charge, but always in the shadows, is his father. Kelly despises this life, but turning away from Colby seems to be an impossible venture and Chad can’t scrounge up the courage.

They also live in constant fear of getting caught by the police, who are always on their trail, but never really able to do something to them. Right when emotions and dissent in the “family” run a little high, Colby sends his “crew” out to another heist. This time, however, the stakes are higher and therefore the consequences more severe.

So, obvious facts first: this is not a pleasant story. There is actually very little entertainment value in just the plot and the way it is presented. The imagery is quite dismal as well, especially everything happening in the camp. While the English countryside is really beautiful, there are only very few shots of it and most of it is overshadowed by the dulled-down and shabby appearance of this rugged band of outcasts. That is also why I can totally understand that this movie is very hard to like.

What caught me off guard and led to a strange kind of fascination is the sensation that took hold of me during the movie. Right from the start it feels downright unpleasant. Everything is just wrong, when seen from the perspective of an average European citizen from a big city. Their living situation is disturbing, the way they interact with each other unnecessarily rough and everything they do seems very out of place. And for me that absolutely is the catch. It takes masterful craftsmanship to elicit this level of emotional response from the audience.

On top of that, I also have to give credit to the actors, who are a major factor in getting this result. As a fan of Brendan Gleeson, I was not surprised how well he managed to portray this unlikable patriarch. Michael Fassbender, on the other hand, managed to surprise me. It was not a very characteristic role for him, in my opinion, but he really did a great job. His character is sort of stuck between his desire to do the best for his family by getting them away from his father and his strange fear-fueled loyalty to him. And he managed to bring all of that to the table in a very convincing manner. They make a great duo and were a perfect choice for these characters.

Let’s wrap this up: Maybe I managed to convince you that there is something to be liked about this movie or maybe I did not. To me it is certainly no surprise that this is a hard sell. If you are a cinema fan and watch a lot of movies, maybe you will enjoy the challenge of finding entertainment on a — for a lack of a better word — meta level. Otherwise, you should probably stay away and pick one that will have at least a chance to give you a good time. (If I may make a suggestion: Our Kind Of Traitor is well worth the time.)

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