Tyger: Review. By Connor Walsh.
The 2023 film, Tyger, tells the story of Joe, a Scottish Veteran returning from Afghanistan only to end up in jail after struggling to rejoin civilian life. The film starts with Joe freshly released from prison as he makes his way to Scotland to reunite with his family. Joe’s rough exterior, wearing tattered clothing and a long ungroomed beard pushes people away, keeping him isolated.
Strangers view him as a ‘bum’ as the film follows his long struggle trying to find a home for himself. Throughout the film Joe hardly survives and meets people only to continue on within his journey, facing judgment based on his history, how he looks and the difficulty he has in conforming to society. The film exists as a statement on mental health and the way veterans are disregarded and unable to fully integrate within society.
Tyger showcases loneliness and isolation with wide shots emphasizing how Joe is a small fish in a big world, isolated by every aspect of society. Interior shots using the building’s architecture as framework showcase the claustrophobic confines of society that Joe experiences. The film overutilized static shots and well-framed close ups but the film holds on these shots a bit too long where it drags out the length instead of saying something about these characters.
The performances were fine but no one really stood out from the rest and it felt like they were trying to hit emotional beats rather than try for a more personal angle. Events felt like they happened as we quickly moved on to the next beat.. I would have loved a more stripped down movie with Shaun Dooley’s character as centering it on someone who has lost something and is in a further stage of recovery I felt could have helped the picture more than moving onto characters so quickly that neither really stands out.
Tyger lacks an emotional center despite its important topic. Tyger fails to immerse audiences within the story and as a result it is untethered and drags on. Artistic shots that represent Joe’s isolation are visually appealing but don’t help the viewers connect to Joe in a meaningful way. What drives Joe? How does his past affect his present? These among many other questions are left unanswered.
The film tells viewers how Joe suffers rather than showing his experiences navigating the world as a veteran. Joe’s only emotional outlet is his journal, no friends or family to confide in. As we the viewers do not see the life he had with his family, the absence of Joe’s wife and daughter don’t feel real, as this loneliness lacks emotional impact and is impersonal.
This lack of connection makes Joe a poor protagonist, after all how can you root for a stranger? Throughout Tyger, many characters come and go throughout Joe’s journey but instead of feeling authentic it feels as if the dialogue is trying to hit marks to make us feel something.
Tyger’s is a film about veterans being cast out and used when they’re convenient but unfortunately the film doesn’t have anything much to say other than life is tough. While not all stories are happy, this film’s message rang hollow and inauthentic, rather than invigorating the viewer to veteran plights.
Maybe if the film condensed the locations and the characters the impact would land harder as the viewer is constantly transported from place to place. Tyger is a solid film but like Joe, it is often aimless and wandering in search of something that it hasn’t found.
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