Irish crime family thriller Calm With Horses marks the directorial debut of Nick Rowland. It tells the story of ex-boxer turned mob enforcer Douglas ‘Arm’ Armstrong played by rising star Cosmo Jarvis. Caught between his loyalty to the Devers family and his responsibilities as a father, he is faced with an impossible dilemma that will have life-changing consequences.
At Glasgow Film Festival, I was lucky enough to sit down with the director Nick Rowland to discuss the film…
Calm With Horses is of course adapted from a short story by Colin Barrett. How did you come across the source material?
I first read the collection of short stories when I was still at film school, and I had been writing short film scripts…and they were terrible. I was trying to read people who actually knew how to do short form storytelling better. Young Skins is amazing and Calm With Horses is like the sort of centrepiece of the collection. It was about 70 pages, so it felt like a good-sized story to develop into a taut movie.
Glanbeigh is a fictional small-town on the west coast of Ireland which serves as the bleak yet breath-taking backdrop for a series of short stories called Young Skins by author Colin Barrett. Crime novella Calm With Horses is the bruising centrepiece of the collection and has been adapted for the screen by newcomer director Nick Rowland and screenwriter Joseph Murtagh. The plot centres around ex-boxer turned muscle Douglas ‘Arm’ Armstrong (Cosmo Jarvis) who does the dirty work of Dympna (Barry Keoghan) for the drug-pedalling Devers family. When he discovers that his ex-girlfriend Ursula (Niamh Algar) is moving to Cork with their young son Jack, he is forced to confront his conflicting loyalties head on.
Musician turned actor Cosmo Jarvis has quietly impressed in small supporting turns for a number of years, and now has his first leading role in Nathalie Biancheri’s unconventional family drama Nocturnal. Painter and decorator Pete (Jarvis) endures a bleak and uncomplicated existence in a small coastal town, but his life is thrown through a loop when old flame Jean (Sadie Frost) returns with his long-estranged teenage daughter Laurie (Lauren Coe) in tow. Attempting to make a connection, he strikes up an unusual friendship with the cynical schoolgirl without revealing his true intentions.