Humanity seems to find humour in grief and tragedy like in Martin McDonagh’s pitch black delight, The Banshees Of Inisherin. The Irish filmmaker reunites with his dynamic duo Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. The three worked together back in 2008 in the equally dark In Bruges. This time not hit men keeping a low profile in Belgium, friendship ending unexpectedly.
McDonagh’s last film, 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2018) won him the Oscar, could he do it again? Yes.
When it comes to breaking up, be it romantically or in friendship all rules go out the window. Let’s admit we have all been there, done that got the t-shirt and every experience has been different. Why things end in certain ways happen may bewilder one side like Pádraic (Colin Farrell). The world we live in is a cruel one.
We find ourselves in 1923, a fictional island and town called Inisherin. The sounds of the Irish Civil War can be heard across the water on mainland Ireland. Two long time friends Padraic (Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson) every day at 2 pm they conduct their favourite pass time drinking at the island’s drinking hole.
When we meet the men, Colm is not speaking to Pádraic who decides to make his own way to the pub. Eventually Colm arrives and breaks the bad news, he doesn’t want to be Pádraic’s friend any more. Pádraic is taking no for answer and attempts to unravel what went wrong. Testing Colm’s patience who finally breaks and threatens to do something drastic. Will anyone believe him?
McDonagh knows how to get the best out of Farrell. Whilst the actor is no stranger to comedy, with the right filmmaker even established actors can rise above. He knows how to play ‘A limited Man’ or ‘One Of Life’s Good Guys’, as described in The Banshees. A simpleton, a bit of a dull fellow who doesn’t do much keeps to doing the same things every day. It’s also probably why Pádraic takes the news of the friendship ending harder than Colm. He’s a musical man who likes playing and trying out new tunes on his fiddle at the pub. He feels different from his former friend, he is also very enigmatic despite a few rays of kindness.
The Banshees Of Inisherin metaphorically maybe about the sadness of breaking up. It’s also about noticing the warning signs, most of all how easy we can all fall out with each other. Through out the film the Irish Civil War happens in the background. A reminder that these rivals once fought on the same side now enemies due to some trivial reason.
Inisherin is small, there’s even a possibility the animals outnumber the human population. Everyone has a ringside seat to our protagonists fallout, they also know everything else that’s happening too. Mrs O’Riordan the village store owner, and lead gossiper, Mrs McCormack who looks like she’s death from The Seventh Seal. Barry Keoghan as Dominic, the son of the island ‘s policeman a young man abused by his old man. He’s the face of broken youth, who has eyes for one woman Siobhan (Kerry Condon), Pádraic’ sister. A woman who deserves our sympathy and rightly deserves a future elsewhere. She is the hope of the islanders and is like a candle that still burns strong.
The Banshees Of Inisherin is a slowburner and has no need to go any faster. It’s perfectly paced complimented by Curter Burwell’s intimate score and Ben Davies gorgeous cinematography. Colin Farrell is truly fantastic proving he’s a great character actor as much as he’s great as a lead. Brendan Gleeson is immense as Dom a man whose love for a pint and music are more important than boring friends. He thinks his days are numbered all he wants peace in his ‘final days’. Condon and Keoghan are equally rewarding in support.
Platonic relationships rarely get a run out in film, The Banshees Of Inisherin is a raw engaging comedy. Life can be cruel at the same compassion still exists. This film has plenty of charm as much as it’s darkly funny may ask you why am I laughing ?
Comedy, Drama | Ireland, 2022 | 15 | 30th January 2023 (UK) | Blu-ray, DVD | Searchlight Pictures | Dir. Martin McDonagh | Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan, Gary Lydon