Trespass Against Us




Conflict within a family and also within a film.

Trespass Against Us

Michael Fassbender


Part moral drama, part action movie, Adam Smith's feature - his first with actors - offers an unusual mix and it is one which, as scripted by Alastair Siddons, doesn't always cohere satisfactorily. Nevertheless, Trespass Against Us is an interesting piece aided by some impressive performances. The film brings together two notable actors upon whom one can almost always rely: Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson. If in this case it is Fassbender who has the edge, it is because his role is the more intriguing. He appears as Chad Cutler who is a grown man, married with two children, and yet for all that still under the thumb of his father, Colby: that's Gleeson.


It is hardly surprising that Chad should be dominated in this way since Colby is very much the patriarch and in charge of a camp of travellers with whom the family live and all of whom carry on a life of crime in the established Colby tradition. With Chad's brother Brian in jail, Colby sees Chad as his successor but still gives all the orders himself. Chad's wife, Kelly (Lyndsey Marshal), dislikes this set-up and all the more so because the example being set will endanger their young children, Tyson (Georgie Smith) and Mini (Kacie Anderson). Chad, who is illiterate, may want them to have the education he lacks but their closeness to Colby and his companions affects the children's outlook and their behaviour.


The moral drama that is central to Trespass Against Us has more than one dimension. At its heart there is the tragedy of Chad's behaviour since, despite being a loving father who wants better things for his children, he is a man too weak to stand up to his father. But that's not all since we see too how others through their prejudices or fears fail to provide the support which is necessary if Chad is not to go under and which, if withheld, may well condemn Tyson to growing up in the family tradition being pushed by his grandfather. However, the scenes of criminal behaviour (episodes in which in spite of everything Chad finds himself involved) are played to the hilt, and that is why Trespass Against Us often takes on the character of an action movie. The invitation to relish these scenes is all the more potent because the chief opponent of the family is a particularly obnoxious policeman played by Rory Kinnear.


Fassbender enters fully into what for him is a very unfamiliar characterisation and Gleeson, if given less opportunity to be markedly individual, is persuasively in character. For that matter the supporting cast including Lyndsey Marshal and young newcomer Georgie Smith do very well indeed.  But one is still left with the impression that, as suggested by the emphatic music score, somebody felt that the action scenes needed to be played up to sell the film without realising that they would come across at the expense of the moral drama.




Cast: Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Lyndsey Marshal, Georgie Smith, Killian Scott, Rory Kinnear, Sean Harris, Gerard Kearns, Tony Way, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Kacie Anderson, Barry Keoghan, Peter Wight, Anna Calder-Marshall.


Dir Adam Smith, Pro Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan and Alastair Siddons, Screenplay Alastair Siddons, Ph Edu Grau, Pro Des Nick Palmer, Ed Kristina Hetherington and Jake Roberts, Music Tom Rowlands, Costumes Suzanne Cave.


Film4/BFI/Protagonist Pictures/Animal Kingdom/Lipsync LLP/Westgrove Partners/DMC Film/Potboiler Productions/Albert Granville-Lionsgate.
99 mins. UK/USA. 2015. Rel: 3 March 2017. Cert. 15.