Title – Calm with Horses (2019)
Director – Nick Rowland (feature debut)
Cast – Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan, Niamh Algar, David Wilmot
Plot – Ex-boxer turned enforcer for small-time Irish crime family the Devers Douglas “Arm” Armstrong (Jarvis) finds his loyalty being tested when he is tasked with murdering an acquittance that has wronged the family he has been bought into.
“I’m told I was a violent child”
Review by Eddie on 02/03/2021
Also known as The Shadow of Violence in other territories, this gritty Irish crime drama that is produced by Michael Fassbender under his DMC production banner is a solid entry into a crowded sub-genre of UK/Irish films of this ilk, films that refuse to back away from the bleakness that lay at the core of their beings.
From the moment we hear the gruff voice over of singer/actor Cosmo Jarvis’s “Arm” talk about his violent nature and his way of life working for Barry Keoghan’s Dympna (sporting one of cinemas worst recent haircuts) and his family the Devers, Horses becomes the exact type of film we expect it to be and never once truly tries too become anything but what is to be expected, but that doesn’t mean Nick Rowland’s debut is without merit.
Firstly giving Cosmo Jarvis his most notable film role yet, a performance that requires significant restraint but also at times built up emotion being unleashed, the film also gives us another solid Keoghan turn in what’s a new addition of creepy performing from the impressive actor with the two leads front and centre through most of Horses gritty affair that sees Arm wrestling with a murderous request from the Denvers relating to a family friend that has done wrong by them.
The film tries to add extra bite with the side plot of Arm and his relationship with Niamh Algar’s Ursela, who is the mother to Arm’s troubled young son Jack but much like the central plot device of the film this whole component of the film fails to surprise or add much of value to the film, even if Jarvis and Algar share a strong on screen chemistry.
There are times that you are willing the tale of Arm to take us to places we didn’t expect, give us something that will land a knock out blow to our expectations but those moments never come meaning that while the tale of Arm and his trials will engage us to a certain extent, Horses never does enough to make it stand out from the pack, a pack that features a number of extremely similar tales that managed to create something unique around their more generic foundation.
Final Say –
A solid Irish-tinged crime drama with some nice central performances, Calm with Horses is the very definition of solid without being at all remarkable, as the familiar tale of criminals with good hearts takes us on a journey that fails to surprise.
3 carnivals out of 5