IFTA Best Film 2020 | Calm With Horses

Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos

Directed by Nick Rowland

Nick Rowlands feature length directorial debut, Calm With Horses forgoes the flashing lights and loud noises for a real and often upsetting glimpse into the increasingly pervasive criminal underworld of rural Ireland. The stand out performance is Cosmo Jarvis, who delivers an understated performance as “Arm” an enforcer of the Devers crime family.

When Arm is tasked with killing a gang-member who sexually assaulted a young woman he begins to struggle with complex feelings of guilt and responsibility bringing up past traumas, having inadvertently caused another death in his youth. Barry Keoghan delivers an excellent performance as Dympna, a wanna be gangster who is in way-over-his-head, while Niamh Algar’s Ursula is fantastic as the alternative to the despicable Devers brothers. 

The film crams nearly every pertinent issue into its hour and forty minute run time but does not feel bloated. While we see Arm struggle with his mental health, we also see him commit acts of shocking violence. Despite this, the film does not paint Arm as either good or evil. The film forces us to pity even the bullying Dympna. Calm With Horses helps us remember that most crime is not done in greed; it is done in desperation.

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