The Gritty Family Drama of Trespass Against Us

By  · Published on September 27th, 2016

It’s all on display in the first trailer.

What would you do if the only thing you know how to do is the one thing causing you the most grief in your life? Director Adam Smith explores this question through the story of Chad Cutler (Michael Fassbender), a career criminal who faces familial pressures from all sides in his first feature film, Trespass Against Us. The film’s first trailer teases the dark nuances of the film in a truly compelling way.

The film premiered this month at the Special Presentations section of the Toronto Film Festival. It is the first feature film of popular BBC television director Adam Smith, who is perhaps best known for his work on the long-running show Dr. Who. The film was written by Alastair Siddons. The film’s stars, award-nominated and easily recognizable character actors Michael Fassbender (X-Men) and Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter), seem to have intense onscreen chemistry as the film’s central father/son figures.

Chad Cutler’s father, Colby (Brendan Gleeson), has been a criminal all his life. He lives a life off of the grid, in a secluded RV commune. He brought his son into the “family business” from a very young age. Chad’s entire existence has been centered around the criminal enterprise his father built, to the exclusion of almost everything else including a formal education. Chad’s significant other and their children live in the RV park alongside Colby. Things start to fall apart when Chad gets arrested yet again and Colby suggests bringing Chad’s son into the operation, but there’s no easy escape for Chad and his family. The normal society around them wants nothing whatsoever to do with the Cutlers, even when Chad suggests that he is willing to put his life of crime behind him. It is clear, even from just the trailer, that the man feels torn between loyalty to his father and obligation to protect his children.

If the trailer is any indication of the final product, Trespass Against Us will fit nicely into the same gritty crime drama genre as films like A History of Violence. While the film may have an emotional family crisis at its center, it still provides enough action and high-octane adrenaline to maintain a balance between grit and tears.

Despite the title plucked from the Lord’s Prayer, the film does not seem to have any overt Catholic themes or presence in the film. I had, upon learning the title of the film, suspected an IRA angle, but that does not seem to be present in this film.

If the film is as captivating as its trailer, this film has awards season written all over it. Perhaps this will be the year that either of the film’s stars finally win an award for their consistently good performances. Perhaps this film will break Adam Smith out of the relative obscurity of television direction and onto the mainstage of feature film. Either way, it’s a film I’ll be seeing and watching out for.

Trespass Against Us hits theaters in the US on November 24, 2016. The film will be released one week earlier, on November 16, in the UK.

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