Trespass Against Us

***

Reviewed by: Luke Shaw

Trespass Against Us
"The West Country slang in use is at times impenetrable, but it’s clear that writer Alex Simmonds has spent a long time learning its intricacies, and the actors are doing their best to capture the spirit and tone of this community."

British Crime dramas are a staple of the national cinema of this dismal little isle, but all too often are they centered around the instantly recognisable capital cities and the glamorous criminal gangs of lurid inner city climes. In Adam Smith’s first feature length film, Trespass Against Us, the traditional urban characters are rejected for a far more parochial cast of misfits in the form of the Cutler family.

Chad Cutler, played with vulpine charm by a rakish Michael Fassbender, is fit for change. Growing up as a traveller, he’s been inculcated into a life of crime and recklessness. The patriarchal Colby (Brendan Gleeson) looms over his future and his present, a father figure as obsessed with his legacy and the future form of this band of travellers as his father and grandfather were before him. Through this generational friction the core of the film is revealed. It’s nothing new or particularly exciting, but a fresh change of scenery helps oil the gears.

Copy picture

With this scenery change also comes a not too often filmed dialect. The West Country slang in use is at times impenetrable, but it’s clear that writer Alex Simmonds has spent a long time learning its intricacies, and the actors are doing their best to capture the spirit and tone of this community (based on a real family of travellers from Gloucestershire). It would be remiss not to note at this point that there has been a rather cold reception for this accent from American audiences, which seems odd considering the density of similar dialects in larger budget features like Snatch.

Whilst the story is nothing groundbreaking, it at least gets its audience to being to reflect on its prejudices. The Cutler family are born and bred criminals, and their legacy precedes them. Chad’s main point of conflict with Colby is in his desire to alter the presupposed destiny that has been laid out for his children. He and wife Kelly (Lyndsey Marshal) do their best to ensure an education for them, whilst Colby undermines any attempt to secure them a better future.

Loyalty is at stake, and Colby’s Machiavellian scheming belies his apparent lack of intellect. The action that breaks up the familial drama is a series of rough and ready backstreet chase sequences set to music by Tom Rowlands of The Chemical Brothers fame, which revel in the skill and charisma of this band of career criminals. Chad himself displays wit and braggadocio that lends the sort of charm that other more banal criminals supply through the application of fashion and money.

Empathy towards the characters is readily available if you can look past the circumstances that have secured their situation. Prejudice against travellers isn’t hard to find in the UK, so this may turn people against them. That people are so much more ready to enjoy the company of economic criminals than those who partake in a little rural mischief is one of the mysteries of cinema, but if you can see past this (and the slightly saccharine ending) then this is a competent and enjoyable romp.

Reviewed on: 27 Feb 2017
Share this with others on...
Trespass Against Us packshot
A man looks to find a way to escape the criminal ways of his outlaw family.
Amazon link

Festivals:

Glasgow 2017

Search database: