CALM WITH HORSES

Cert 15 Stars 4

Ferocious, unrelenting and assured, this Irish crime thriller is a  superb contemporary tale of revenge, loyalty and family, a powerfully bleak study of modern masculinity and a wholly impressive debut from director Nick Rowland.

An ex-boxer turned enforcer for a clan of down market drug-dealers is teamed up with the family’s unpredictable protege to punish a gang member for a sexual attack, but when the pair are ordered to murder the perpetrator events take a desperate turn.

Cosmo Jarvis and Barry Keoghan are terrific as Arm and Dymphna – the reluctant heavy and his tough talking but weaselly ambitious companion – and their little and large pairing and has distant echoes of mismatched pairings such as 1969’s classic Midnight Cowboy.

Rowland skilfully creates a menacing atmosphere and moral murk as strong as the cast’s accents, and though he handles the brief shifts into action and horror with aplomb, this is a foremost character study and the careful inclusion of Arm’s ex-girlfriend and their young son offers a sliver of hope and redemption.