Peter Mullan’s violent alcoholic forms an awkward friendship with Olivia Colman in this tough but absorbing drama.

You can tell from the opening scene that actor Paddy Considine’s hard-hitting debut as a writer and director is not going to be an easy watch.

Barely a minute into the film, Mullan’s working-class widower has kicked his beloved dog to death in a savage act of displaced aggression.

What follows is, in places, even more brutal, yet this drama enables us to understand Mullan’s character and offers him a kind of redemption through middle-class charity-shop manager Colman, in whose store he takes refuge after another violent affray.

His life is clearly deeply troubled, but behind her respectable facade lurks an even more disturbing history of abuse.

Expanding his Bafta-winning 2007 short, Dog Altogether, to feature length, Considine gets tremendous, searingly honest performances from his leading duo, with committed support from Eddie Marsan as Colman’s bullying husband.

Considine plainly owes a debt to Ken Loach and Shane Meadows, but has his own distinctive voice as a filmmaker and deservedly won the award for Outstanding British Debut at the 2012 Baftas.