Like most crime dramas, Arm and Dympna can get a lot of money with one last big job…kill Fannigan. Apparently, the beating wasn’t enough of a message. As Dympna loads Arm with courage in the form of several lines of cocaine, Arm is promoted from the Dever family muscle to hitman.
I wouldn’t say The Shadow of Violence (titled Calm With Horses in the UK) is the most original crime family story. Arm is the conflicted lead with a conscious, unsure he can go through with his first hit. At home, his estranged girlfriend, and mother to his son. She wants nothing to do with his lifestyle and is justifiably freaked out when Arm takes Frank to the Dever Farm because it was on the way home from a few errands.
Nothing new. But then there are subtle little touches in the story to make it different and a much more personal story that you’d expect, like the reason for Frank’s anxiety and its possible correlation to Arm’s job. Then there’s Dympna’s steady flow of coke to Arm’s nasal passage as a means to control him.
“…there are subtle little touches in the story to make it different and a much more personal story…”
I personally loved the performances all around. Unlike your typical mafia films, the Dever’s reach extends only to the borders of this small town. They’re more bullies than mafia dons and are all portrayed as mean and nasty neighbors with zero guilt about violence and drug pushing. As tough as they are, their rough characteristics are never overplayed, nor over-the-top. Everyone, particularly Jarvis and Keoghan, is grounded and feel like people we know…or avoided.
Though the story will feel very familiar to fans of crime family dramas, Jarvis gives a touching and vulnerable as a guy who knows no other way to support his family. You hate what he does but sympathize with the ultimate consequences of his life choices. The Shadow of Violence has interesting things to say about violence and, ultimately, how far you would go for your family.
"…how far you would go for your family?"