'The Shadow Of Violence'
(Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan, Liam Carney, et al / DVD / R / 2020 / LGF)
Overview: In the dark underbelly of rural Ireland, former boxer Douglas Arm Armstrong, played by Cosmo Jarvis from Hunter Killer, has become a feared enforcer for the drug dealing Devers family.
When his ruthless employers order him to kill for the first time, his loyalties are tested in this powerful thriller co-starring Barry Keoghan ('Dunkirk') and Ned Dennehy ('Peaky Blinders').
DVD Verdict: Originally titled 'Calm Horses,' there's nothing here that we haven't seen before, BUT seldom have we seen it done this well!
It's an Irish gangster movie of sorts but it doesn't follow the rules of other gangster films or movies dealing with criminals or family feuds.
Everything about it is different from its location on Ireland's West coast to its characters. Indeed, this is more a character study than a history of violence, which for the U.S. it got renamed 'The Shadow of Violence,' one assumes.
Its central character is 'Arm', a dim-witted former boxer now acting as an enforcer for the Devers' family. He's a bit like Steinbeck's Lennie but with a mean streak and he's played, quite magnificently, by Cosmo Jarvis.
The original title, 'Calm with Horses' actually refers to his love for the animals and their calming influence on him and it also refers to how horses are used therapeutically to calm down his autistic young son.
However, things go badly wrong for Arm when one of the Devers' clan, (a terrific Barry Keoghan), orders him to kill the man who abused one of the girls in the family.
Working from a wonderfully intelligent script by Joe Murtagh, in turn adapted from a Colin Barrett short story, first-time feature director Nick Rowland never puts a foot wrong; drawing superlative performances from his largely unknown cast and dragging us into the film's central premise like he's been doing this sort of thing for years.
As I said, the material isn't new and Rowland isn't afraid to show off his influences, (mostly British gangster pictures, and we're not talking Guy Ritchie here, as well as the best of American independent cinema), but he brings to his material a freshness and a brilliance I can only marvel at.
Without doubt, this is one of the best films of the year and now that it is out on DVD from Lionsgate, I would rush out and purchase it now, if I were you! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
'The Shadow of Violence' will be available September 1st, 2020 on DVD for the suggested retail price of $19.98.