The Banshees of Inisherin
Written by Martin McDonagh
Directed by Martin McDonagh
Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Pat Shortt, Gary Lydon. Jon Kenny, Barry Keoghan and Sheila Flitton
Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.
Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson reunite with writer/director Martin McDonagh for the first time since they starred together in McDonagh’s dark comedy In Bruges. The pair play lifelong friends whose friendship takes a hard and abrupt turn when Colm Doherty (Gleeson) decides one day that he doesn’t want to be friends with Padraic Suilleabhain (Farrell) anymore. Blindsided by the information and desperate for answers, Padraic proceeds to hound Colm for the reason causing more harm than good and getting everyone in town involved with both comedic and tragic results.
First off, the film is breathtakingly beautiful to see. McDonagh has a brilliant eye for the landscape and the environment crafting beautiful shots that give both a sense of the country, but also a sense of the isolation of the small island the story takes place on. The movie takes place during the Irish Civil War of the 1920’s and you really get the sense of being cut off from the rest of civilization. I got a sense that there was a parallel between the conflict across the shore and the one of the island.
Gleeson is fantastic as Colm. There is a sense that he has come to a realization about his mortality, his future and his choices among the routines of his life and his desire for something different fuels his conflict with Padraic. It’s a masterful performance of a character that longs for change, but has no real plan beyond not spending all his time with someone who doesn’t want anything to change. The conflict between the characters fuels the movie and you see Colm struggle to find something beyond his decades long routine.
Farrell is the perfect counter to Gleeson’s character. Padraic is comfortable and happy in his routine. He lives with his sister Siobhan (Condon), tends to his animals and drinks at the pub with Colm every night. When his seemingly perfect routine is upended by Colm, he has no idea what to do. He’s never really wanted anything more from his life and Farrell plays him with a sweet and sympathetic confusion that changes over the course of the film to something dark.
Caught between the conflict between Colm and Padraic is Padraic’s sister Siobhan. Kerry Condon is brilliant as the character. Her performance is pitch perfect as someone who has become so bored by the endless routine of the island that she is looking for any way to leave. Her biggest conflict comes in the form of being the person who pretty much takes care of her adult bother to the detriment of any personal dreams and her journey in the movie is one of the highlights.
The Banshees of Inisherin is a beautifully shot, brilliantly acted, often bleak but always surprising film. The acting is top notch and I love the environment and emotion McDonagh brings out from both the actors and the island setting. The film is slow moving, but it utilizes its time well in order to give the viewer a sense of the personal bleakness of the characters and their frustration with their lives. A wonderful character study with some surprisingly effective comedy beats and twists.
The Banshees of Inisherin is currently available on Digital and will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD December 20th.