Calm with horses

In a rundown Irish coast town, former County boxing champion, the aptly named Douglas Armstrong (played by actor Cosmo Jarvis, strongly reminiscent of a youthful Marlon Brando) has to deal with the stigma and probable guilt of having accidentally killed a man in the ring. Although he probably lacks the drive to make the effort to move away, he is kept in the locality by the presence of his  ex-girlfriend  Ursula and small son Jack, who is autistic. This is despite Ursula’s efforts to keep him at bay to protect Jack from the malign influence of the local drug dealers, the Devers, who employ Douglas as an enforcer to punish or keep in line anyone rash enough to cross them. Ironically, Jack is most disturbed by any hint of force or violence,  so that the horses in the stable where Ursula works  provide one of the few calm settings where father and son can connect with each other.

Violent, tense, unflinching and unsentimental, this film also contains moments of subtlety and sensitivity, enabling one to feel sympathy for Douglas even after the brutal acts he has committed on behalf of the it would seem both mad and bad Deevers.  To what extent is Douglas too passive in the acceptance of his situation, or simply a victim of circumstance? With a strong sense of place and the  convincing acting of well-observed characters, this film is worth watching even if it cannot be described as enjoyable.

In a rundown Irish coast town, former County boxing champion, the aptly named Douglas Armstrong (played by actor Cosmo Jarvis, strongly reminiscent of a youthful Marlon Brando) has to deal with the stigma and probable guilt of having accidentally killed a man in the ring. Although he probably lacks the drive to make the effort to move away, he is kept in the locality by the presence of his  ex-girlfriend  Ursula and small son Jack, who is autistic. This is despite Ursula’s efforts to keep him at bay to protect Jack from the malign influence of the local drug dealers, the Devers, who employ Douglas as an enforcer to punish or keep in line anyone rash enough to cross them. Ironically, Jack is most disturbed by any hint of force or violence,  so that the horses in the stable where Ursula works  provide one of the few calm settings where father and son can connect with each other.

Violent, tense, unflinching and unsentimental, this film also contains moments of subtlety and sensitivity, enabling one to feel sympathy for Douglas even after the brutal acts he has committed on behalf of the it would seem both mad and bad Deevers.  To what extent is Douglas too passive in the acceptance of his situation, or simply a victim of circumstance? With a strong sense of place and the  convincing acting of well-observed characters, this film is worth watching even if it cannot be described as enjoyable.

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