Calm with Horses (15)***

Dir: Nick Rowland

With: Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan, Niamh Algar

Runtime: 100 minutes

IT is not so much grim up north as wretched in the west of Ireland in Nick Rowland’s drama.

Cosmo Jarvis plays Douglas Armstrong, “Arm”, who works as hired muscle for the family of drug dealers who rule the town through fear. According to his pal (Barry Keoghan), ex-boxer Arm is part of the Devers clan, one of the boys.

But Arm has a family of his own with ex-girlfriend Ursula (Niamh Algar, last seen in TV’s The Virtues) and their young son. The boy, who has special needs, attends a riding project for disabled children and has a chance of moving to a better school, but that will take money Arm does not have. The time is coming when Arm has to decide whose side he is on. Inspired use of location and strong performances all round, from Jarvis and Algar especially, but the relentlessly bleak tone and sense of hopelessness make for a dispiriting watch.