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Trespass Against Us (Michael Fassbender) - DVD Review

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

MICHAEL Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson provide a compelling focal point in gritty family drama-cum-thriller Trespass Against Us, which marks the British debut of writer-director Adam Smith.

Set against the backdrop of a Traveller community, the story focuses on the notorious Cutler family, who live as outlaws in the Cotswolds, but who find themselves at something of a crossroads as the law threatens to close in.

For the community’s patriarch, Colby (Gleeson), it’s about keeping everyone together and maintaining his iron grip on their fortunes, but for his tormented son Chad (Fassbender), it’s about trying to forge a better life for his wife and children, while staying loyal to his dad.

Smith’s film is notable for the way in which it offers a compelling glimpse into the Traveller lifestyle and mind-set, creating a believable and often scary environment in which the Cutler’s exist. Their often bullying attitude towards each other is also reflected in their approach to both the policemen on their trail and the everyday people who get in their way, particularly as they frequently stage robberies in order to fund their way of life.

It also provides a strong platform for Fassbender and Gleeson to flex their acting muscles, with each putting in strong work.

It’s just a shame, therefore, that Smith’s film doesn’t always make the most of the potential afforded by the set-up and his cast. For while highly watchable for the most part, Trespass Against Us sometimes fails to deliver on the expected fireworks.

Fassbender and Gleeson are mostly content to circle each other, and never really get the big moment the film suggests is coming, while the central dilemma before Fassbender’s Chad is never really explored in the depth that would really have given this brilliant actor the material to chew on. Rather, the story seems superficial, scratching the surface of the tensions at best, and opting instead to throw in several car and foot chases, as the Cutler’s seek to dodge the police.

The climax, too, feels a little too open-ended, short-changing several of the supporting characters (most notably Chad’s wife and kids) in favour of something that aspires to be as poignant as it is bittersweet. Quite frankly, the film doesn’t earn the conclusion its director is seeking, given how unsympathetic most of the characters are throughout.

Hence, while easy enough to admire in places, Smith’s film struggles to engage on a really emotional level and winds up feeling more of a curiosity piece than the powerhouse family drama its premise suggests.

That said, Smith does enough to raise his stock as a filmmaker (even deploying a soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers to noteworthy effect), while any film with Fassbender and Gleeson is always worth seeing.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 98mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: July 3, 2017