The Banshees of Inisherin is a 2022 black tragicomedy film written and directed by Martin McDonagh. The film follows lifelong friends who find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship; Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan also star. It reunites Farrell and Gleeson, who previously worked together on McDonagh’s directorial debut In Bruges.
Starring: Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson
Genre: Drama, Comedy, (Black comedy/tragicomedy)
Directed by: Martin McDonagh (In Bruges)
Highly rated by Rotten Tomatoes at 97% and IMDB at 8.2.
This review is based on a viewing of the movie yesterday. I was looking for something good to watch at the cinema after missing Bullet Train and found the movie called The Banshees of Inisherin starring reuniting stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson who had previously paired up in the black comedy In Bruges – also directed by the Martin McDonagh. I didn’t read any reviews prior to seeing the film and went with an open mind. Having seen the trailer it looked interesting enough.
So, the film starts off pretty quickly and there is no explanation or showing of the main characters relationship before this crisis hits them. Pádraic Súilleabháín (Farrell) and Colm Doherty (Gleeson) were obviously close friends having lived on the island for many years, sharing the same pub. However we are dropped right into Colm telling Pádraic that he no longer wants to be friends, and that he should stop talking to him. This last for some time, about half an hour of the film is this tension back and forth as the Irish men seperate and the locals who live on the island begin to take it seriously.
It is a rather sad and callous action for Colm to cut his friend off like this. But he reasons that it is because Pádraic is dull and talks **** for hours on end. Colm would rather have peace, play his violin and make music that Island will remember. This is occuring on an island off the coast off Ireland during the civil war, some time ago now. As the reality settles in and Pádraic struggles to find the reason, and finds it hard to accept, he is trying to make amenda believing he is in the wrong, yet Colm doesn’t want to hear any of this.
After some time, Colm makes the ultimatum that every time Pádraic talks to him he’ll cut one of his left hand fingers off. The hand he plays the violin with. With time, and the two in silence not helping one another, Pádraic makes the mistake of talking to his ex friend, revealing to the pub goers, and island folk that it was no bluff. Despite living with his sister, Pádraic is lonely, and misses his friend, as is his sister. With time the loneliness grows. But Colm is pushed further and eventually cuts all fingers off.
As for the characters; interesting to say the least. The humour is very stark and black but does well in places. The over arching theme is loneliness, despite me thinking it was about something else entirely. The two best friends, now seperated because Colm wants peace, ultimately proves too much for Pádraic who can’t handle it. He’s soon talking to animals and keeping them in the house for company.
It is quite dramatic, yet quite tear jerking because the man can’t move on easily from this relationship. On the way the other island residents soon turn out to be just as callous. But it isn’t this that causes us to connect. We are seeing that the world here on the island is far sinister, it’s isolating. Something that we all can relate to. The friendship that was broken was strong on one end, but revealing on the other. Colm, potentially wrestling with his own demons is clearly not in his right mind to do these things, and neither is Pádraic.
What we are left with is a broken relationship and isolation on both ends. What should have been an amicable departure turns sour. Yes there is humour, but there is more drama. I was left hoping that something good would happen, but it sort of fizzles of at the end of the movie. The ending is abrupt and we have to piece together whether the men are friends again, or simply calling it quits on this fighting. There is some heart touching moments, and yet bitter moments. Characters struggle with the realities and some perish, telling of the high rates of depression among the isolated and indeed in those times – and even to this day.
What I wanted was more comedy, a bit more backstory into the friendship, like a scene of the two friends etc. Without this, it sort of plays out as a very weird, but likeable story. There is more to the men than we realise. There is more to the residents, to the island, to the story. This goes beyond a friendship breakup to the harrowing inner workings of a society held together literally by space and time.
Acting is super, and I didn’t expect less from the Irish pair Colin Farrel and Brendan Gleeson. It was a welcome reunion, and you can see that the pair on on form, at the top of their game. But they’ve always been good actors, this is just a very different acting style, almost like watching a play at the theater. The island location is beautiful, the decadent decaying homes of the farmers run down and revealing of their hearts desire. A movie I’d like to watch again. Although the dark air to the film is a little unsettling. Some genius somewhere will decode all the symbolism and things to tell us the real meaning and happenings in time.
This is far from a comprehensive review: so, thank you for reading! I give it generous: 4/5 because I like these sorts of movies, small places, tight acting, stringent storylines and potent drama.