Joseph is an angry man. This is made known mere minutes into the film when in a drunken stupor he kills the only thing that loves him. This thing happens to be an innocent dog. He kicks his ribs in for no real reason. He instantly regrets it but it does not take back the damage that has already been done to the dog. Within a few minutes of the film starting, you think you know this man. You think that he is not going to be a good man, you think that you are going to go through the whole film hating him. But you will be wrong.
As a result of his anger, Joseph hides from a gang of young men who want to beat him up in a Christian thrift shop. The owner of the shop prays over him and asks for sympathy from god. Joseph is not responsive, at least not in a positive manner. And yet he is drawn to this woman. Hannah seems to have everything figured out, but nobody ever does. Behind her Christian faith and belief that everyone is essentially good, her marriage is rife with problems. She gets emotionally and physically abused by a man who made her not be able to bear children. The only thing in the world she wants. Joseph seems to sense that there is hurt in her life without knowing anything definite. Their relationship is a relief for both of them. They dance, they laugh, they get drunk together. They love each other in such a quiet, unassuming way.
Olivia Colman who plays Hannah easily runs away with the film. She is emotionally raw the whole time without ever being over the top. When she breaks down at the end of the film, it is so heartbreaking that it made me cry. Her role was not easy and yet she so embodies the character it is almost unsettling. Her struggles may be specific to her character but her range of emotions is universal. Being betrayed by someone you thought you loved is one of the worst feelings that can ever happen to someone.
Paddy Considine will hopefully be able to direct and write another feature. Known more for his acting than his directing, I think he can evolve into a true auteur if given the chance. His ability to tap into essential emotions that is present in everyone is so hard to replicate. So many of these types of films leave you so empty by the end, but not this one.