The Banshees of Inisherin Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
A black comedic tragedy about the absurdities of life & the end of a friendship. This is a fantastic entry into McDonagh’s filmography!
Genre: Comedy / Drama
Director: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan, Sheila Flitton, Gary Lydon, Pat Shortt, Bríd Ní Neachtain & David Pearse.
Run Time: 114 min.
US Release: 04 November 2022
UK Release: 21 October 2022
German Release: 05 January 2023
Right at the beginning of 2023, European audiences are treated to a special cinematic release! I have been waiting patiently for McDonagh's new flick to make its way to Germany, now it is finally here! Ever since his debut feature film In Bruges, McDonagh has brought out nothing but high-quality, entertaining dark comedies. Once The Banshees of Inisherin was announced, it quickly reached the top spot on my most anticipated list. So grab your pint of Guinness, sit back in your lazy boy and enjoy reading my review.
When lifelong friends Pádraic and Colm find themselves at an impasse because one abruptly ended their friendship, the escalating repercussions do not only affect both men but the whole community of the small island of Inisherin.
Director and writer Martin McDonagh scripted what essentially is a break-up story. The suspense is built at the beginning, through the fact that there is no reason given as to why Colm decided not to like Pádraic anymore. A kind of mystery is set up, as audiences try to figure out what it might be that led Colm to such a drastic decision. Once the reveal is made, the narrative goes through a string of absurd consequences that are funny, as well as sentimental at the same time.
The emotional chords are being plugged at exactly the right moments! One feels for Pádraic, who is highly distressed by his best friend suddenly ending their friendship. Added to that simple story are a bunch of social commentaries about small-town communities; the need to gossip, everybody knowing everything about everyone or even the tight belief in superstitions plus folklore. These are just a few of the subjects the regisseur uses to spice up the humour.
Further themes woven into the narrative are about men, and their swallowing of emotions, especially true in the era this plays in. Concerning the case of emotions, it is hinted that Colm is going through a midlife crisis. Finally, the exploration of visceral extremes in human behaviour, especially in times of sentimental despair, play front focus. A small sub-arc is given to the Irish Civil War, as the plot takes place in 1923.
The dialogue's subtle play on comedy is clever, especially as the feud between these two former friends deteriorates. It pitches simple conversations against more sophisticated talks.
Out of the two protagonists, the plot follows mostly Colin Farrell’s character Pádraic Súilleabháin. This is mainly due to the reason that he is the more sympathetic of both, a nice person, a little simple-minded, though not dumb. Farrell gives a heartwarming rendition, emotionally hooking audiences to his role. This is mostly because he himself is a versatile actor, able to give profound portrayals of his roles.
Brendan Gleeson gives one of his best performances since In Bruges! His chemistry with Farrell is once again on point, both managing to play off magnificently from each other. Gleeson plays Colm Doherty, Pádraic’s former best friend who quits their friendship due to, what could be described as a midlife crisis. Colm fears that he is closer to death than youth, wanting to be remembered for something.
Kerry Condon is added to the cast, playing Pádraic’s sister Sibohán. She is the voice of reason in Inishering, just like a woman who puts culture above small-town superstition. She loves her brother very much, yet the ongoing feud is what ultimately drives her angry. Condon gave a beautiful rendition!
Another brilliant performance is given by Barry Keoghan, who obtained a smaller side-role, as the dimwitted town simpleton Dominic. Keoghan gives a heart-tearing performance, even if a little annoying at first. While Gleeson’s chemistry with co-star Farrel is impeccable, it is out-shined by the interaction between Dominic and Pádric.
The camera is beautiful! Director of Photography Ben Davis managed to capture the beauty of the karst, barren landscape of Inishmore, an island situated west of Ireland. The isolated feeling of a small town is also accurately recorded. These segments were shot on Achill Island. The long takes, emphasise the dramatic structure, as do the desaturated colour pallets, which also suit the historic timing it plays in.
The set design emphasises the topic of seclusion, with the accurate representation of single houses set apart from each other. The pub was built for the sole purpose of the picture, later being torn down again. Costume, makeup, as well as props are accurate to the era and setting.
The music, in contrast to the rest of the movie, is not Irish-based. This was fully intentional, as the regisseur felt that the picture, setting, as well as cast plus crew, were Irish enough. Instead, composer Carter Burwell used an international choir soundtrack that reflect the personalities of the protagonists.
Verdict: McDonagh is known for creating slow-developing black comedic tragedies, with superb, thought-provoking dialogues and magnificent storytelling that depicts the world from a cynical point of view. His newest premise is no different, yet it might be his best film! Containing snarky social commentary about small towns, the shut-down of emotions by men, as well as some of the most extreme human behaviour. The dialogue is clever and subtly comedic, however, the best aspects are the performances by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who masterfully play off each other. Farrell gives a charming performance as the likeable Pádraic, while Gleeson is fantastic as the quietly brooding, fiddle-playing Colm. The cinematography is gorgeous, capturing the jaw-dropping scenery of Ireland. The Banshees of Inisherin is everything I wanted out of a McDonagh-directed flick plus more! It deserves a 9.0 out of 10.
What a great start into the new year! Have you seen this movie? Do you agree with my review? Leave a comment below & thank you very much for reading!