Some simple truths can not be avoided and must be fully realized. One of these is that the year of 2016 wasn’t a great one for Michael Fassbender, no matter how much charisma he has and how fantastic he is up on that screen. After being nominated for an Academy Award as Steve Jobs, he returned to a character he has played twice before, Erik Lensherr AKA Magneto, in a poorly put together X-Men sequel, Apocalypse. The Derek Cianfrance romance The Light Between Oceans was well acted, alongside his fiancée Alicia Vikander, but failed to make a ripple in a pretty dull September. Even worse than that, he produced and starred in the big screen adaptation of the massively popular Assassin’s Creed video game series which was a horrible waste of two hours. So, what’s Fassbender and can he rise above these blunders?
Trespass Against Us is about the fundamentals of what family means from two very different viewpoints. The film is set in the small British trailer park community of travelers who pull off smash and grabs among other petty crimes. Michael Fassbender plays Chad Cutler, a married man with three kids who has grown tired of living hand to mouth and dreams of more for his brood, including a real education. His father, Colby (Brendan Gleeson), only sees that business should go as it always has, you strike where there’s opportunity and his word rules the camp, fight him if you dare. Chad questions if the motives of the community are the same that will be prosperous for his family, causing him to butt heads with his father, a fight that may never happen if the nearby police who are gunning for them get their way.
A “British trailer park community of travelers” might have an air of familiarity to it, especially to fans of Brit gangster films. Yes, Brad Pitt famously played Mickey, the head of a group of “pikeys” in Guy Ritchie’s film, Snatch and it’s hard to shake the comparison when Gleeson and Fassbender get talking around a campfire, constantly kept ablaze by a dirty Sean Harris throwing gasoline on it. Aside from the harsh language and the difficulty understanding it, this is the only point where Ritchie’s film and this movie from new filmmaker Adam Smith share anything. Smith’s film isn’t about flashy character blendings and the like, it’s about the community and the future.
Fassbender seems to return to an area where he is most comfortable, in deep character building and many brooding moments, the biggest draw to the film. More than that, the scenes he shares with Brendan Gleeson feel like a clinic of acting between two of the very best character actors in the industry. Beyond that, Trespass Against Us is a very soft crime film, never skirting on anything feeling too intense or violent, just a very slight and, at times, quirky story of a bunch of rough talking caravan folk doing their day to day. However fluffy Adam Smith’s film feels, it’s still enjoyable to see Fassbender in a role that fits him. 3/5