Douglas ‘Arm’ Armstrong (Cosmo Jarvis) was a boxer on his way to greatness until something went wrong in the ring. Having nowhere to turn, Arm is employed as a heavy by a gang who are in the drugs trade. Then one day one of the gang does something unspeakable and Arm is told to deal with him in the only way they know how.
Arm is hesitant as he has a family to think of, his ex, Ursula (Niamh Aglar) and their autistic son, Jack (Kiljan Moroney), so when Arm does what needs to be done, he decides to do right by them. However, when things go wrong for Arm and the wrong people come after him, he finds himself dealing with the way that his life has turned out and fighting for survival.
Calm With Horses is the feature debut from director Nick Rowland. Set in rural Ireland, Calm With Horses finds its setting in a rather ordinary place, but Rowland manages to keep the tension throughout, even when Arm thinks he’s in the clear. What starts off as something rather predictable ends far more emotionally than anyone could have imagined and it’s down to Jarvis’ great performance.
Although Arm is initially portrayed as a typical hard man and may be hard to relate to, by the end he becomes a more fleshed out character as the audience really feels for what he is going through.
Arm is a man tormented by his past, worried for his future and troubled by his daily life. It’s in Jarvis’ performance that the audience sees a man who cannot help but be the way that he is and yet there is the glimpse of a good man behind it all. The scenes with Arm and his son are a mixture of sweetness and frustration as the audience sees Arm try desperately to connect with his son.
However, he never comes across as abusive because Jarvis shows Arm’s frustration is only born from misunderstanding and not from a lack of love. By the end, there may not be a dry eye in the house, even from those muscle-bound alpha males that may be the film’s target audience.
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