Trespass Against Us is a global tale told on a local scale in the ruralness of Gloucestershire. With shades of The Godfather, it’s a study in the complex bonds of masculinity and patriarchy as Chad (Fassbender) tries to break free from his father Colby’s (Gleeson) influence for the good of his own family. Colby leads his clan in a transitory life, one based in caravans and on petty criminality, condemning them to lurk on the edges of mainstream society.
This rich, universal material is undoubtedly also given a boost by the brilliant cast, brimming with realistic dynamics, and first-time director Smith. Gleeson and Fassbender are a charismatic father-son dream team, their relationship tinged with a frisson of menace. Our sympathies lie with Chad, stuck between a lawless, ignorant father; a bullying local copper (Rory Kinnear, on fine sneering form) and a wife (the ace Lyndsey Marshal) who wants better for her kids.
Sean Harris is good value as the group’s mentally deficient punching bag, at once both harmless and utterly deranged. There’s also an odd pleasure in hearing an actor like Fassbender – exuding, as always, his predatory, rangy magnetism – proclaim something “cushty” in a totally non-ironic way. Most of the humour, however, comes from well-observed human moments, such as Chad warning his son that he’s “in trouble forever”, and the staggering irony of the uneducated Colby’s musings: he utters the almost unfathomable line, “Hell hath no fury like a locked-up super-goat.” Worth the admission alone.
It’s a breath of fresh air to see rural England portrayed on the big screen, away from period dramas. An exceptional ensemble really delivers in a film that might otherwise have struggled to attract attention. Its scaled-down focus is a tonic to the usual sweeping epics beloved of Hollywood.
CAST: Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Lyndsey Marshal, Rory Kinnear, Sean Harris, Killian Scott
DIRECTOR: Adam Smith
WRITER: Alastair Siddons
SYNOPSIS: Chad Cutler looks for a way to escape his domineering father and nomadic, outlaw lifestyle in order to provide better for his young family.