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#TIFF19 Review: Calm With Horses (Discovery)

September 16, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Set in a sleepy Irish town that offers little in the way of economic opportunity, Calm With Horses follows Douglas “Arm” Armstrong (Cosmo Jarvis), a physically imposing former boxer who struggles with anger management issues. Desperate for cash, he is hired to be an enforcer for the Devers, a local crime family that runs a drug-dealing operation, and partners up with the family’s eldest son, Dympna (Barry Keoghan). Arm needs money to help support the five-year-old son, Jack (Kiljan Moroney), that he shares with his ex-girlfriend (Niamh Algar). Jack is minimally verbal and on the autism spectrum, and being in a better financial situation with allow him to attend a special school in County Cork.

Carried by a strong performance from Jarvis, who brings quiet intensity to the role while also eliciting some level of sympathy for his bruised character, Calm With Horses is a somewhat slow moving but well acted Irish crime drama that is effective as a character study. It’s sensitively directed by Nick Rowland, making his feature debut, and Piers McGrail’s cinematography captures the beautiful but somewhat depressing feel of the town. The film also features another solid supporting turn by Keoghan, as well as an impressive performance by the young first time actor Moroney, who delivers a very believable and authentic portrayal of an autistic character.

Barry Keoghan and Cosmo Jarvis in Calm With Horses

Public Screenings:

Sunday, September 8th – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Tuesday, September 10th – 6:45 PM at Scotiabank Theatre

Sunday, September 15th – 6:15 PM at Scotiabank Theatre

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