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Calm with Horses

✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

United Kingdom, Ireland
·
2020

1h 40m

Director Nick Rowland
Starring Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan, Niamh Algar, Ned Dennehy
Genre Crime, Drama
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In darkest rural Ireland, ex-boxer Douglas 'Arm' Armstrong has become the feared enforcer for the drug-dealing Devers family, whilst also trying to be a good father to his autistic five-year-old son, Jack. Torn between these two families, Arm's loyalties are tested when he is asked to kill for the first time.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

80

CineVue by Christopher Machell

Calm with Horses’ driving concern – the corrosive nature of violence on the self – is rendered in brutal, empathic precision, while the recovery of its protagonist’s humanity as it teeters on the cliff edge is simply heartbreaking.
91

The Film Stage by Jared Mobarak

The result might not be unique in its narrative about a misunderstood man devoid of the means to get out of his own way, but Calm with Horses is stunning in its execution nonetheless.
50

The New York Times by Manohla Dargis

The movie tries to convince you that Douglas is better than his worst self and can transcend the dehumanizing degradations in which he’s mired. But not even the filmmakers seem convinced, which may explain why they embrace baroque brutality topped by a dollop of audience-mollifying sentimentality.
80

The Observer (UK) by Mark Kermode

Buoyed by Joe Murtagh’s screenplay, which keeps the warring elements of the narrative elegantly balanced throughout, the excellent ensemble cast create a complex emotional ecosystem through which our troubled antihero stumbles in search of his identity.
63

RogerEbert.com by Nick Allen

The film's poetry is like the close-up of the clenched fist that Rowland uses to introduce us to his character study — there’s a thoughtfulness behind the tight fingers, maybe even a broken soul, but its expression is that of a blunt object.
60

The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw

It’s powerfully and pugnaciously acted, and horses are brought in – as animals often are in social-realist movies – as symbols of redemptive nobility. But I felt that in narrative terms it turned into a cul-de-sac of macho violence.
75

Movie Nation by Roger Moore

First-time feature director Nick Rowland makes the violence in-your-face and the scenes where Arm starts to struggle with it wrenching. Dude stages a mean Irish backroads car-chase, too.
80

Screen Daily by Wendy Ide

And as a statement of intent, it’s unequivocal: Rowland combines striking visual flair with razor-wire character studies.

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