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The Banshees of Inisherin Review

October 20, 2022 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
The Banshees of Inisherin Image Credit: 20th Century Studios
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The Banshees of Inisherin Review  

Directed By: Martin McDonagh
Written By: Martin McDonagh
Runtime: 109 minutes
MPA Rating: Rated R for language throughout, some violent content and brief graphic nudity.

Colin Farrell – Pádraic Súilleabháin
Brendan Gleeson – Colm Doherty
Kerry Condon – Siobhan Súilleabháin
Barry Keoghan – Dominic Kearney
Pat Shortt – Jonjo Devine
Gary Lydon – Peadar Kearney
Sheila Flitton – Mrs. McCormick
Bríd Ní Neachtain – Mrs. Reardon

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson re-team with In Bruges filmmaker Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Inisherin. Set in a rural town off the coast of Ireland, The Banshees of Inisherin depicts the breakdown of a once solid friendship between two men against the backdrop of the Irish Civil War in the early ’20s. The Banshees of Inisherin is a film that epitomizes offbeat. It’s an incredibly dry film. However, underneath that dry exterior is a quirky, genuine quality, along with authentic characters trying to work through pain and sadness, which is what makes the film such a deeply rewarding, profound experience.

During the Irish Civil War, Pádraic Súilleabháin (Farrell) lives a quaint, simple life in his coastal island town. Nothing ever seems to happen there. Even the events of the war look to be nothing more than a distant haze of a faraway place. While island life might be simple enough to keep Pádraic content, it has the potential to drive others mad, like living in a never-ending living purgatory.

The balance of Pádraic’s life is shattered after learning that his longtime buddy, Colm Doherty (Gleeson), informs him that they can no longer be friends. While Pádraic is content with island life, Colm has reached a breaking point. Colm, who is single, lives alone, and has no children, is desperate in his hopes to create something that will identify proof of his existence. He wants to create a song that will last through the ages.

However, Pádraic struggles with his longtime friend’s rejection. While Colm is determined to leave his mark on the world, Pádraic longs to regain his old friend. Therein lies the beauty of The Banshees of Inisherin as it explores male relationships through the lens of a sleepy, old-world Irish town that appears frozen in time.

McDonagh’s direction paired with Ben Davis’ beautiful cinematography transports the audience to the film’s coast island town. The island village looks authentic and like a place on the world’s edge. While the quaint island village may seem beautiful at first glance, its appeal is likely lost to those who have spent their entire lives there.

The film is impeccably cast, but Kerry Condon’s performance is an impressive standout as Pádraic’s sister, Siobhan. She lives with her brother in the family cottage they inherited from their late parents. Siobhan also dreams of something greater, but she takes a different route from Doherty. Condon’s scenes provide a nice diversion throughout the film from the journey of Pádraic attempting to cope with the loss of his former friend.

The ever-reliable Barry Keoghan gives a standout performance as the young Dominic. Dominic is a simple-minded boy, habitually abused by his father, the town’s lone policeman Piedra (Lydon). After Colm cuts off ties with Pádraic, he starts to commiserate with Dominic. While others are experiencing personal grief, pain, and suffering, the feelings and despair poor Dominic suffers from are largely ignored.

One of the more beautiful aspects of The Banshees of Inisherin is how Martin McDonagh demonstrates quiet innocence and purity through the animal characters. Pádraic is constantly shadowed by his pet donkey, Jenny, seemingly his sole source of comfort after being rejected by his best friend. Colm has a faithful and loyal pet dog. The animals are pure, innocent, and compassionate. They love their owners unconditionally. The relationships that Pádraic and Colm share with their animals are sweet, but their devoted animals cannot fill the emptiness in their lives.

While The Banshees of Inisherin is dry and offbeat, Farrell and Gleeson sell the material in a genuine, natural fashion. Despite the film’s offbeat nature and style, their own unique styles and charisma shine through their characters.

The Banshees of Inisherin is a sad, melancholy story, yet a rewarding one. While the plot does tend to meander a bit, it leads to an intense climax. However, there is at least a vague hope that perhaps a mutual understanding can be achieved someday. At least, one hopes that is the case.

The Banshees of Inisherin arrives in theaters on October 21.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
The Banshees of Inisherin is a fascinating look at the deterioration of a friendship and depression through the backdrop of a coastal Irish island. Farrell and Gleeson deliver quietly powerful, emotional performances. The quiet, subtle displays of depression are exceptional, especially in light of a time and place when there is little help for deep, crippling depression. Martin McDonagh's direction provides a heavy layer of authenticity, making the island village look astounding, but also one that loses its appeal for those destined to live there forever until they expire. The Banshees of Inisherin is melancholy, dry, and offbeat. It's a sad story but also weirdly humorous and beautiful.