Based on the award-winning short story by Colin Barrett, and adapted for the screen by Joe Murtagh. Director Nick Rowland’s Calm With Horses is nothing short of electric crime drama. In a debut feature film that explores masculinity, community and crime without broad brush stereotypes or cliches. Wrapping the audience in a heart-breaking and violent portrait of limited opportunity, social isolation and fatherhood in rural Ireland. Where the trajectory of one man’s life as an enforcer and fixer lays in the hands of a criminal family. Who not only manipulate and control him, but also the community surrounding him.
In both style and tone Calm With Horses owes much to the Australian drama Animal Kingdom and Michaël R. Roskam’s Bullhead. By dovetailing themes of criminal activity, substance misuse and masculinity with a far more nuanced and complex study of self created entrapment. While equally drawing the audience into a cul-de-sac of options as the story spirals towards its conclusion.
Douglas (Cosmo Jarvis) is an ex-semi-professional boxer. Whose boxing career ended suddenly on accidentally killing another young man in the ring. His life since stuck in a trap of servitude to the Devers family led by Paudi (Ned Dennehy) and his slightly more respectable brother Hector (David Wilmot). Their large extended family ruling the towns local drug scene with an iron grip of violence and fear. While Douglas provides his brute strength in further enabling the control the family business wields. His talents held on leash by the violent and controlling young Dympna (Barry Keoghan).
Meanwhile, Douglas splits his duty to the family with the needs of his ex girlfriend Ursula (Niamh Algar). And their five year old autistic son Jack (Kiljan Moroney). His relationship to both mother and son shrouded by the violence of his day job, and the drugs, alcohol and dirty money he brings home. However, while family relationships are strained by his life choices. Douglas also struggles to adapt to the special needs of his son. Wishing for him to be ‘normal’, as the ghosts of his own childhood interface with Jack’s special needs.
Director: Nick Rowland