Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 29, 2020

The Shadow of Violence

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 6:36 pm

Opening on Friday, July 31, “The Shadow of Violence” is noteworthy both as a film and as a turning-point in cinema since it will be the first film I’ve reviewed since March 13th that is opening in physical theaters rather than as VOD, or what they call “virtual cinema” (venues listed below).

Based on Joe Murtagh’s adaptation of Irish author Colin Barrett’s “Young Skins,” first-time director Nick Rowland has made a somber film about the plight of Douglas “Arm” Armstrong, an enforcer for an Irish drug gang based in the western Irish countryside. From the beginning of the film, you expect things to end predictably on a tragic note but stay tuned in to Arm out of compassion for a man trying to break the chains fate has cast.

Acclaimed as an amateur boxer, Arm found it hard to resist going on the payroll of the Devers brothers. For doing nothing much except beating people up, he had job security and enough money to live on. Unlike Italy, the USA, Mexico or Colombia, the drug trade in rural Ireland will not make you rich. The two kingpins of the Devers family might be better labeled as pawnpins with their ratty clothes and shabby homes. Whatever they lack in wealth, they more than make up for in viciousness.

Early on in the film, Arm and his partner Dympna, a nephew to the Devers, are dispatched to punish an old man who came to a party they threw. When there, he supposedly raped a young female guest. With what appears to be a total absence of police in the town, punishment is dealt out as if it were the Old West and like in the Old West, men, especially rustlers, get lynched.

Arm has little trouble beating the living daylights out of the old man but is dismayed to discover that the Devers brothers view that as only the prelude. They order Arm to kill him, specifically by throwing him over a cliff. Arm might be capable of beating someone up (although he seems to get no pleasure out of it) but he has never killed anybody before, except in an amateur fight. He felt terrible remorse over a ring accident, so much so that he never went pro. With that trauma in his past, he was not up to the task of killing someone in cold blood. Of course, the consequence of defying his bosses’ orders could be fatal.

If he didn’t have enough on his hands dealing with the Devers, he is in one skirmish after another with his ex-girlfriend Ursula and their autistic son. Arm loves the boy but has trouble getting through to him. When we see him lose patience with the child, we chalk that up as a moral deficit but at least give him credit for wanting to be part of his life. Since Ursula would rather see him disappear because of his job as a drug gang’s enforcer, he has to work extra hard to get time with his son.

Arm is played by Cosmo Jarvis, a brawny British actor who has the same handsome but menacing features as Dwayne Johnson. For most of the film, he is impassive.  In hot water with his bosses over his failure to carry out a hit and his ex-girlfriend for his low-life ways, his anguish becomes hard to mask. Nick Rowland does an excellent job drawing out top-rate performances from his actors. In the director’s notes, he states:

The world of THE SHADOW OF VIOLENCE is energetic, eccentric and beautiful as much as it is dark and threatening. It is a place where violence or laughter could erupt at any moment. I loved how the audience are propelled forward by the youthful energy and spirit of the central characters. Above all else, I wanted to take the audience on a deeply emotional journey, as we explore this brutal world through the eyes of our deeply vulnerable protagonist, as he grapples with his conscience and desire to do what is best for his son.

I’d say he has succeeded admirably.

“The Shadow of Violence” can be seen in the following venues:


Sarasota: Burns Court

KC: Screenland Armour

The Promenade at Bollingbrook
The Arboretum of South Barrington
Emagine Frankfort

Ipic Theatres River Oaks District
Star Cinema Grill Baybrook
Star Cinema Grill Springwoods
Star Cinema Grill Richmond
Star Cinema Grill Cypress

Dallas  The Village at Fairview

The Domain Austin
Lake Creek 7

Oklahoma City: Rodeo Cinema

Winchester VA: Alamo Winchester

Emagine Eagan 15
Emagine White Bear 17
Emagine Willow Creek 12

Fayettville AK: Razorback 16

Owensboro KY: Owensboro Cinema Grill

Southhaven MS: De Soto Cinema Grill

Ft Collins CO: Lyric Cinema

Salt Lake City:
Megaplex at The Gateway
Megaplex 18 at Thanksgiving Point
Megaplex at Jordan Commons

Ogden UT: Megaplex 13 at The Junction

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