Banshees of Inisherin: I’ll be your friend, Colin Farrell.
Sometimes the best movies have the simplest premises. That’s the case with Banshees of Inisherin: Martin McDonagh’s simple, touching, and sometimes disturbing examination of human interaction; a film that explores the complex nature of relationships, and how what we say and do can have repercussions we’d never expect. It also wonderfully captures the beauty of Ireland (even though Inisherin isn't a real place...) and uses some strikingly beautiful cinematography to enhance the story.
A Simple Story
The film opens with Pádric (Colin Farrell) going about his normal daily routine of going to collect his best friend Colm (Brendan Gleeson) to head down to the local pub. Only...Colm isn’t answering. Weird, but Pádric goes to the pub anyway, where he is chastised by the bartender about his friendship with Colm. He is eventually able to chase Colm down, and Colm informs him that he no longer wants to be his friend, that Pádric is dull and Colm doesn’t have the time to focus on him, when he needs to focus on his music and leaving an impact instead.
From there, Pádric unravels while the rest of the story plays out, with many twists and turns that I don’t want to spoil for you. The movie is anchored by amazing performances from the whole cast. Colin Farrell gives a career-best performance (in my opinion) as Pádric, navigating the complex feelings and emotions that one goes through when dealing with a friendship ending. Brendan Gleeson as Colm meets Farrell at every turn, serving as a wonderful foil and turning in a nuanced, layered performance of a man who is unsure of their time left, and what to do with it.
A Fantastic Supporting Cast
Kerry Condon plays Pádric’s sister, Siobhán with the warmth and fire of a true Irish lass. She struggles with the ache of wanting more from her life, and her obligation to her brother, and gives a performance that is truly stellar. Barry Keoghan also turns in a good performance as Dominic, the son of the island’s policeman, who struggles with fully comprehending the world around him and the people he interacts with. He sees the world through a very innocent lens, which is used to juxtapose the ever maddening scenario that Pádric is going through.
The other character I need to talk about is Mrs. McCormick (perhaps the titular Banshee of Inisherin?). She appears throughout the film, predicting the terrible things that will befall them, while also challenging the characters that she interacts with to confront the ideas of their own mortality. Sheila Flitton gives a wonderfully haunting performance, elevating the old archetype of "the crone" character into the modern times. Well, somewhat modern, as the film is set in 1923.
Images that tell a story
The cinematography in this film is truly captivating, showcasing the beautiful landscapes of this (fictional) island off the coast of Ireland, while also utilizing its structure to bring us into the feelings these characters are experiencing. Breathtaking landscapes help us realize how isolated these characters are, but also how their problems and interactions are also universal. There were several shots so strikingly beautiful that I had to pause to get a closer look.
McDonagh wrote and directed this film, and he did a great job with both. The script is subtle and nuanced, making all of his characters feel like real people as it explores ideas of humanity, mortality and friendship. His direction style helps elevate the story that he wrote, as he knows the right time to let a scene of intense dialogue or action rest for a minute, before delving head-first into the next.
Honestly, this film is great. It’s a wonderful use of the art form to explore some really complex and intense ideas through a subversively simple story, while being elevated by some beautiful visuals and heartbreaking performances. Colin Farrell leads a top-notch cast giving amazing performances that are all rightfully getting love and attention this awards season. I feel like this is a movie I will enjoy revisiting as I get older, as I feel I will be able to mine something new out of it with every viewing. It’s a film about connection and relationships, and masterfully expresses some thoughtful ideas about the human condition.
And Colin? Hit me up for that pint whenever you're ready.