An ex-boxer turned mob enforcer questions his morals when he’s forced to do something he never has done before in this gripping Irish thriller from director Nick Rowland.
For Douglas “Arm” Armstrong, his life has not been easy at all. A former ex-boxing champion, Arm has since become an enforcer for the Devers family. With his skills as a boxer, Arm will beat up anyone who owes money to the family. Dympna, the nephew of mob leaders Padie and Hector, makes sure Arm is doing his job and trusts him like a best friend. However, Arm is also in a complicated relationship with Ursula and their son, Jack, who is special needs.
When Ursula tells Arm that she is planning to move away to help Jack get into a school for special needs children, Arm is very uncomfortable but is determined to help earn the money needed for Jack. However, when the Devers tell Arm that Fannigan, an associate of the family, knows too much and wants him dead. Arm has never killed anyone before, and he is forced to make a decision that could potentially affect either his loyalty to the Devers or his loyalty to Ursula and Jack. Arm soon finds himself in a predicament that he may never be able to get out of.
Based on a short story by Colin Barrett, Joe Murtagh’s script is a study of redemption, choices and their consequences, as well as dreams all wrapped up in a nice 100-minute package. The film is a gripping look at a man whose past leads to his current position and his loyalty to not one but two families. The film is driven by some excellent performances by the cast.
Cosmo Jarvis is really great as Arm, our protagonist who is forced to make a decision that will change the outcome of one half of the life he is living. He plays a man who finds himself in two complicated relationships. One is with the mob family he is working for, led by two brothers who couldn’t be any more opposite. David Wilmot’s Hector is the more calm brother who attempts to seduce a widow to get her money while Ned Dennehy’s Paudi is a complete timebomb who will threaten violence in the worst ways imaginable. This is seen in a very uncomfortable scene where he even seems to make a threat at Arm’s son Jack.
Barry Keoghan, who tends to play young badass types, does it again here as Dympna, the nephew of Hector and Paudi, who has kind of a two-sided personality. He is tough as an enforcer, but he seems to be a likable fellow at times when it comes to his relationship with Arm. With Arm, we get to see a more friendlier side to a character who when he is mocked, will turn the switch on. Niamh Algar gets excellent props as Ursula, Arm’s well, girlfriend, with whom has a son with him who is special needs. Algar and Jarvis have such natural chemistry as a bickering couple who try to work things out not only for the sake of their son, but in hopes to get a better life for themselves.
The film may have found a new breakout star in 5-year old Kiljan Tyr Moroney, who plays Arm and Ursula’s son Jack. Playing a special needs child allows the youngster to bring out an emotional and intelligent performance as Jack doesn’t speak at all in the film. In a very pivotal scene that churns out a very powerful and heartbreaking moment, Jack freaks out at an amusement park after Arm attempts to show him how to use a gun for a game. This scene makes Arm especially conflicted as he fears his current job is affecting his relationship with Jack.
The Shadow of Violence is gripping and emotional, all driven by some amazing performances by its cast. A film about the possibility of redemption and dreams all met by choices and consequences is an excellent film to check out.
WFG RATING: A-
Saban Films presents a DMC Film and Element Pictures production in association with Film 4 and Screen Ireland. Director: Nick Rowland. Producer: Daniel Emmerson. Writer: Joe Murtagh; based on the short story “Calm with Horses” by Colin Barrett. Cinematography: Piers McGrail. Editing: Nicolas Chaudeurge and Matthew Tabern.
Cast: Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan, Ned Dennehy, David Wilmot, Niamh Algar, Kiljan Tyr Moroney, Simone Kirby, Anthony Welsh, Liam Carney, Roisin O’Neill, Ally Ni Chairain.