Director Nick Rowland makes an ambitious feature debut with his TIFF 2019 entry, Calm with Horses. The movie stars Cosmo Jarvis as Douglas “Arm” Armstrong, a rather imposing individual who works as the muscle for the Devers family and their drug operation. Arm is also responsible for a five-year-old son. His ex Ursula (Niamh Algar) does still care for Arm, but she isn’t especially comfortable having him around given his line of work. It’s a complicated situation for Arm who’s driven to support his son and help get him into a special school, but in order to do so, he needs to follow through on orders from the Devers family that require him to cross a line like never before.
With Calm with Horses celebrating its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, Rowland, Jarvis, Algar and Barry Keoghan who plays Dympna Devers, came by the Collider Lounge to talk about their experience making the film. Check out the video interview at the top of this article to hear about Rowland’s move from rally car driving to filmmaking, the family vibe established on set, the standout qualities of Arm, Ursula and Dympna, and so much more. You can also check out my review of Calm with Horses right here.
We also need to send a big thank you to our presenting sponsor Nordstrom Canada and supporting partners Marriott Bonvoy and Ciroc Vodka for supporting the Collider Lounge at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and helping to make these interviews happen.
You can find a full breakdown of the interview and the official TIFF synopsis for Calm with Horses below:
Nick Rowland, Niamh Algar, Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan:
- 00:20 – What is Calm with Horses about?
- 00:47 – Rowland on his journey from rally driving to directing a movie.
- 01:30 – Jarvis on what drew him to the material.
- 02:49 – Keoghan on Dympna’s look.
- 03:36 – What it was like for Keoghan and Algar meeting Jarvis for the first time.
- 05:23 – Algar, Jarvis and Keoghan pick one quality of their character they’d like to keep for themselves.
- 06:25 – The team runs through some of the biggest challenges on the shoot.
- 07:20 – The energy on set; working with the Irish crew.
- 09:07 – Would Rowland rather have enough time but not enough money, or enough money but not enough time?
With his hulking physique and close-cropped cranium, retired pugilist Douglas “Arm” Armstrong (Cosmo Jarvis) is an intimidating figure. His boxing days behind him and with few prospects to be sought in his depressed Irish seaside community, Arm is happy to be recruited into the Devers family drug business. Working as the right-hand man to Dympna (Barry Keoghan), eldest of the Devers offspring, Arm makes a menacing — and thus highly valued — enforcer.
Underneath Arm’s thuggish exterior, however, lies a disarming tenderness, especially when he’s allowed to visit his five-year-old son Jack, who is on the autism spectrum. As tensions between Arm and Jack’s mother begin to thaw, Arm sees a chance to prove himself as a parent. When the Devers give him a task that will test the limits of his loyalty, Arm is forced to reckon with what kind of man he really wants to be.