The Banshees of Inisherin finds Martin McDonagh delivering some of his best work, bolstered by the wonderful Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Kerry Condon. Set in Ireland, the film presents the breakdown of a friendship and the consequences of this on all of their lives. Ben Nathan reviews
Set in 1923 on a tiny island off the coast of Ireland, The Banshees of Inisherin begins with Colm (Gleeson) informing Padraic (Farrell) he wants to end their friendship with seemingly nonsensical reasons. “I just don’t like you no more” is the extent of reasoning Colm gives Padraic, leaving him baffled and determined to both understand why and rectify their friendship.
The film goes beyond humour to portray a deeply thought-provoking question
McDonagh reunites with Farrell and Gleeson nearly 15 years after In Bruges (2008). They both deliver masterful performances and McDonagh presents his most tightly written and funniest screenplay yet.
As the film progresses, we begin to understand Colm’s motivation for ending their friendship, with him stating he no longer wants to ‘aimlessly chat’ and instead spend the last years of his life actually achieving something. We see how the film goes beyond humour to portray a deeply thought-provoking question that doesn’t provide many easy answers.
Will you be remembered for being nice or actually doing things?
Dealing with friendship, existentialism, loneliness and lost time, The Banshees of Inisherin combines these elements beautifully to create a truly masterful film. Padraic is known on the island as the token ‘nice guy’ whereas Colm wants to grow and achieve things. It makes us question, which is more valuable? Will you be remembered for being nice or actually doing things? The film doesn’t exactly answer these questions for us, making it all the more thought-provoking. It’s difficult for them to grow when they live in such a remote place, and the opportunities simply aren’t there for them to flourish.
As mentioned, Farrell and Gleeson are great, but Kerry Condon gives the best performance here. She is illuminating and refreshing every time she is on screen, delivering both her comedic and serious lines perfectly each time. You find yourself wishing she was on screen even more than she is. The cinematography by Ben Davis is wonderful, capturing the beauty but also the remoteness of the landscape of the island. I also thought the editing was done with real care, and an understanding of the audience, leaving enough time between jokes so the audience can react accordingly.
Even though the film is extremely funny throughout, it is also sad because it gives you an insight on the human condition; how relationships and interaction are integral to a person’s growth, and loneliness is one of the most depressing things of all. It makes the premise of the dissolution of a friendship much more interesting and layered, when these themes are incorporated through the plot and script.
It was refreshing to see a film centred on such a simple premise unravel
The Banshees of Inisherin is a glorious mixture of laugh out loud comedy and deep, sombre commentary on human relationships. Bolstered by incredible direction and writing from Martin McDonagh, and career best performances from Farrell, Gleeson and Condon, the film is delightfully funny as well as ripe for careful attention and consideration. It was refreshing to see a film centred on such a simple premise unravel into such a thought-provoking watch, something I feel we rarely see in Hollywood today. Ultimately, this is a wonderful and irresistible film that makes you laugh whilst also breaking your heart.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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