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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 08.17.20] United Kingdom drama crime

Writer/director Nick Rowland's feature film debut The Shadow of Violence is a brilliant calling card. Written by Rowland's frequent collaborator Joe Murtagh, the film stars Cosmo Jarvis as Arm, a former fighter-turned-enforcer for the drug-dealing Denvers family led by Paudi (Ned Dennehy). Arm and Dympna, another stand out performance from Barry Keoghan, spend most of their days together keeping "the family business" afloat but Arm has other commitments, namely an ex h's still in love with and a son for whom he's trying to be a good father. As one might expect, gangs and family don't mix and soon, Arm finds himself at a crossroads: stay committed to his work or walk away and save his family.

The Shadow of Violence doesn't reinvent the wheel or offer anything particularly unique when it comes to stories of good men in bad situations but the movie benefits from beautiful cinematography from Piers McGrail and an impressive collection of performances from, particularly from Jarvis who made an impression with Lady Macbeth alongside Florence Pugh, not an easy feat considering the power of Pugh's performance. Here Jarvis is captivating as the soft-hearted Arm, a man torn between his commitment to the people who have provided for him and the family he wants to reunite with.

Jarvis has appeared in films and TV for the past few years but with The Shadow of Violence, the actor proves that he's more than capable of leading a film. We recently had a chance to ask him some questions about his performance.

Quiet Earth: How did you become involved in the project?

Cosmo Jarvis: Shaheen Baig, the casting director, had cast me before in a movie called Lady Macbeth but just in general, she's always working on interesting stuff. One day my agent gave me the script to read for the audition. I got a call-back and then did another and, yeah….

What was it specifically about the role that appealed to you?

I remember reading the script and admiring the character of the language Joe used and his dedication to honouring the feel of the place and in inhabitants. It felt very well crafted, realized and also justified. I've met Arms, myself. I remember looking forward to whittling away at Arm and being excited that a character like him had been written. The archetypal but totally unique nature of the story. The fact that he was already firmly on the trajectory he was on before it began to bleed into to his attention that he was even on it, and what that fact meant for other facets of what could be considered the real stuff of life that were not easily compatible with that already snowballing trajectory. Also Nick was my age as was the producer Dan Emmerson and it really felt, even in the early days, like this could be a great undertaking.

The role required not only a physical transformation, but the accent is also very distinctive. How did you prepare for both of those aspects and when did that preparation start?

I began messing with voices very early on. The voice that eventually became Arm's voice began living when my feet set foot on Irish ground. I would go to pubs. Talk. Wander around and think. Have interactions. Look for details in the place and people and think about what might have made them and where they came from. I went to this place they have there which is like Mcdonalds but it's homegrown I believe, call Supermacs it is. Far superior in my opinion as a life long guilty connoisseur of Mcdonalds. And you can get a real sit down breakfast in there, as well as burgers with proper Irish spud potatoes where you can actually taste the ground in a good way, a sit-down breakfast for a reasonable amount of euros. I used to hang out in there watch the world go by.

In an interview you mentioned arriving on location before the rest of the cast. Is that part of your preparation for every role or this one specifically? How did/does that help you?

I wasn't as familiar with Ireland as much as other lands. It's always important to me to become part of the place though if it is other than my place which it usually is. I like to use any time I can get to work beforehand. Sometimes not all scheduling can accommodate this on every job, there is not always enough time. But I manage to do my work one way or another. It serves to minimize the distance between me and the place I guess. It serves to make up for my lifetime of not being in that place, speaking that way. The act of leaving 'home' itself helps initiate and then cultivate a sort of procedure of immersion many ways.

Arm is such an intense character but he also has a sweet, sensitive side. Was it difficult to find that balance? Was it difficult to come in and out of character between scenes? After shooting wrapped?

Arm is just a person and people tend to have lots of sides. It is what it is. You do your utmost. When it's over, I mean, you just sort of stop. It's over. You grow together for quite sometime so it's weird knowing that's it. It's sad. You just sort of stop. Or start again I dunno. Like shedding skin or bad habits or losing a friend, real or imaginary.

You've played a number of intense characters in a series of very dark shows and films. Are you interested in trying something more lightweight... perhaps a comedy?

Comedy sounds good. Good comedys have drama, good dramas have comedy. Nah but seriously, yes, sure. I'm up for anything really. Some of the best comedies are freaking gut-wrenching. But yeah I hear you. I'm up for anything that speaks to the condition we're all in. I don't mind about 'genres' too much. Just good stories/characters which aren't trying to sell any crap or take the viewer for a chump.

What's next for you?

Cup of black coffee with some hefty aspartame and a packet of peanuts, salted.

The Shadow of Violence is now playing in theatres.

Recommended Release: Bullhead

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