Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, and Barry Keoghan
The Banshees of the Inisherin is Marin McDonagh’s follow-up to his excellent 2017 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It follows Pádraic (Colin Farrell) who is dealing with his best friend Colm (Brendan Gleeson) not wanting to speak to him anymore. It’s a twisted comedy that deals with heavy themes of existentialism, death, and friendship. To convince Pádraic to stop speaking to him, Colm threatens to cut off his fingers, one at a time, which will stop him from creating music. Not knowing if he’s bluffing or not, Pádraic tests the waters to see if he’s able to fix their friendship.
Colin Farrell is incredible, as is the rest of the cast. You can really feel his pain as he struggles with the loss of his friend. Everything about his performance is full of emotion. Brendan Gleeson is also great, and really drives home Colm’s sense of despair. He cuts off his friend in order to create music that will outlive him, out of a desire to be remembered. The fear of death is very real and relatable. Kerry Condon gives an amazing performance as Pádraic’s sister, Siobhán, who is dealing with her own isolation on the island, wanting to make something out of her life. Barry Keoghan gives an incredibly performance as Dominic, the island’s idiot, who is deeply struggling with issues in his life. He may come across as foolish, but he’s perceptive of the others on the island.
There is a deep sense of isolation and loneliness running throughout all of the characters, that comes across really strongly making for an emotional rollercoaster of a film. At points you’re laughing and at others your close to tears, and it works on both levels. The premise is absurd and almost like something out of a fairy tale, at the same time it’s poetically crafted with excellent dialogue, shocking violence, and a darkness that sits in on every moment. It’s also a stunningly beautiful portrayal of a small island off the coast of Ireland, with stunning cinematography with McDonagh’s usual collaborator, Ben Davis. It’s breath-taking to look at, and at the same time melancholic.
This is a story about the effects our actions can have on others. Pádraic is a happy-go-lucky person until Colm decides that he doesn’t want to be friends anymore, and this leads him on a dark path that escalates and escalates until it’s out of control. It’s Colm’s cold-heartedness that causes his pain, while there’s another character that tries to be nice, but it also causes pain. It doesn’t matter what people’s intentions are, actions can cause joy and sorrow in others without meaning to.
At the same time this is a film about time running out. Over the small community is a dark cloud of the civil war on the mainland that’s a constant reminder of inevitable death. The bombs and shots going off echo across the island. It’s not subtle that the characters are grappling with the notion that their lives may not add up to much in the grand scheme of things and the looming threat of war underlines it. Despite this, it still has more laughs than most feel-good comedies.
Marin McDonagh has outdone himself with his best film to date. Another instant classic that is sure to be up for a lot of awards in the upcoming months. It’s heartfelt, funny, dark, depressing, and completely compelling from the opening frame to the end of the credits.
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