Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Shadow of Violence Review: An Emotional Family Affair With Some Violence

Release date: July 31, 2020
Running time: 101minutes
Starring: Barry Keoghan, Niamh Algar, Cosmo Jarvis 

Douglas 'Arm' Armstrong (Jarvis) has become the feared enforcer for the drug-dealing Devers family.  He also tries to be a good father for his son, but is constantly drawn into violence due to his friendship with Dympna (Keoghan).  Torn between these two families, Arm's loyalties are tested when he is asked to kill for the first time.  

The Shadow of Violence is a serious, emotional acting trip.  Jarvis is convincing as Arm, who has to balance his violent job with his internal struggles and emotional turmoil.  He really portrays this character genuinely, showing a reservation for violence despite having an inate talent for it.  And some of the choices he is forced to make really show on his face.  Seriously, his conflicted character is really great to see and the depth he shows is wonderful after he is introduced as a meathead.  I also loved to see Barry Keoghan in this movie.  He has a penchant for taking on some messed up characters and Dympna is no different: a violent member of the Devers family who relies on Arm but wants to be viewed as a tough guy in his own right.  And Niamh Algar as the mother of Arm's child is emotional as well, doing a great job of portraying a struggling mother who loves her child and wants to leave this entire situation.

Shadow of Violence has some brutal scenes, but what struck me the most is the music in the film.  It has some amazing music that does a great job of emphasizing what is happening on screen.  There is strong club music during tense scenes; throbbing pounding music that helps to elevate the tension.  And there are more emotional tracks when needed.  And, most impressively, the music cuts out during some truly serious scenes, a fact that really showcases the emotional depth of this film.  And although the sound was a highlight, the violence in Shadow of Violence is brutal when it is in there.  Although there isn't a lot of it--the film is more focused on the characters and their predicament--it is definitely painful to watch when it is on.  And the threat of violence is just as effective as the violence in this film.  When someone seems like they're going to hurt someone, you tense up just as much as when they do.  And the story of Shadow of Violence--of a conflicted person who is dealing with his past choices, current circumstances, and future--is an emotional journey that you can't help but be affected by.

Shadow of Violence is an emotional tour de force, with great characters, a powerful, impactful soundtrack, and a story that hits you early and hard. 

Watch it.

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