Crime a family affair in Michael Fassbender outlaw drama ‘Trespass Against Us’

The two-time Oscar nominee stars as illiterate outlaw living a nomadic existence

By Lauren La Rose


TORONTO — As heir to a criminal clan in “Trespass Against Us,” Michael Fassbender faces a far tougher task than outrunning the law: attempting to break free from the vice-like grip of his controlling father.

The two-time Oscar nominee stars Chad Cutler, an illiterate outlaw living a nomadic existence with his wife Kelly (Lyndsey Marshal) and their kids in a banged-up trailer in the British countryside.

As Chad seeks to establish a life and sense of normalcy for his family beyond the encampment, his domineering dad Colby (Brendan Gleeson) wants to ensure his son doesn’t upset the established order. The fractious bond between the pair is symbolized onscreen with the matching gold keeper rings worn by Chad and Colby throughout the film.

“In the travelling community, that idea of family and blood — and that concept of blood is thicker than water — I mean, it’s multiplied by 100 to what it is in normal communities,” Fassbender said during an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival.

“Family is everything, and the honour of the family, and the family staying together, so it’s a very tight grip on Chad…. To break away from it is a big deal, and Colby is the king of the family in a way. Even though Chad is a strong and independently minded man himself, there is that sort of hold on him.”

Colby enlists Chad to set out on a massive heist. The caper leads to a high-speed chase and manhunt which intensifies the law-enforcement spotlight on Chad, while he also faces mounting pressures and divided loyalties at home.

“(Chad) has his own family, and his concerns at this point in his life is the future of his children and how they’re best going to be equipped to handle the world,” said Fassbender.

“They need to go to school and integrate to a certain level with the settled community. I think he’s smart enough to realize that that’s going to be an essential part of their well-being in terms of how they grow up into young adults.

“The days of Colby’s belief system and what Chad went through as a child, it’s changing rapidly. It’s no longer the same world. It is that classic dilemma of being tied to his dad, but his immediate priority in life is his kids.”

“Trespass Against Us” marks the directorial debut of Adam Smith, an award-winning filmmaker known for his long-term collaboration with British electronic music duo the Chemical Brothers. Chemical Brothers member Tom Rowlands created the pulsing score for the film. The movie’s story from screenwriter Alastair Siddons was inspired by the U.K.’s notorious Johnson gang.

Smith said he was interested in the film’s multigenerational theme, particularly the challenges for both fathers and sons in breaking free from long-held roles and routines and pursuing independence.

“They often say anger is the voice of fear, and he gets quite angry at times, Colby. And I think he is terrified of losing Chad,” Smith said in an interview at TIFF. “He’s invested all of his energy into his son, and I think a lot of parents would maybe relate to that.

“You kind of have to battle against letting a child be who they are rather than who you want them to be. A lot of parents don’t want their children to leave, do they? … I think (Colby) is really scared of Chad leaving. What would he do? He’d be alone without the boy that he loves so much.”

“Trespass Against Us” will be available on demand beginning Friday, and will play in select theatres in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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