The Banshees of Inisherin

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Friendship is a state of mutual trust and support between two people. This is a tale about the disintegration of that bond. The story is set on a fictional island off the west coast of Ireland in 1923. Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson) are lifelong friends until suddenly they’re not. Fiddle player and composer Colm abruptly ends his association with his drinking mate Pádraic. His justification is bewildering, to say the least. “I just don’t like you no more,” Colm says. Padraic is a soft-hearted man, fond of simple pleasures. He enjoys eating meals with his sister, caring for his miniature donkey, Jenny, and drinking at the pub with his pal. He’s a nice guy, and he’s deeply hurt. Pádraic presses Colm for an answer, yet the more he does, the further he pushes his buddy away.

Apparently, Pádraic didn’t say or do anything wrong. It’s just that he’s too dull. That’s a lot to swallow. Pádraic comes across as the most likable man in this isolated town but whatever. It’s the movies—suspension of disbelief. Colm aspires to have interesting conversations and create a legacy as a folk artist. “The Banshees of Inisherin” is the title Colm bestows on the song he’s currently writing. A banshee is also a female spirit in Irish folklore who heralds the death of a victim, and a local named Mrs. McCormick (Sheila Flitton) quite literally fulfills this role. Their feud has an effect on the lives of Pádraic’s sister Siobhán (Kerry Condon), a bartender (Pat Shortt), a shopkeeper (Bríd Ní Neachtain), a priest (David Pearse), and even a beloved pet. Things come to a head when Colm angrily delivers a shocking ultimatum to Padric. It’s never acknowledged, but Colm may have a mental disorder.

The Banshees of Inisherin is filled with a panoply of soulful performances. The production reunites writer and director Martin McDonagh, who helmed In Bruges with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. Farrell gives a nuanced and heartfelt performance that kept me enrapt through most of the picture. Pádraic’s sincerity is so genuine you want to befriend him. He begins as a decent human being, but as the narrative wears on, even he is dragged down into the muck of Colm’s antisocial behavior. The only character whose situation improves is Siobhán, who lives with her brother. She’s an intelligent woman and seemingly the most sensible personality on the island. Dominic Kearney (Barry Keoghan) is a sweet lad that is abused in more ways than one by his monster of a father (Gary Lydon). Peadar Kearney is also the town policeman, natch.

Domestic and sexual abuse, suicide, arson, and self-mutilation…The Banshees of Inisherin is a bleak account. That these topics are the subject of a 2022 comedy — albeit a dark one — is par for the course. The saga unfolds while the Irish Civil War rages on the mainland. A glimpse of an explosion can be occasionally seen in the distance. That historical event can provide some context for the unsavory developments here. Nevertheless, it still doesn’t make me want to spend time with these people.

Irish playwright Martin McDonagh has introduced a bevy of misanthropic characters over four feature films. I have seen them all, and I realize what makes this man tick. His outlook on life is an acquired taste. Yet the director has legions of dedicated fans. His last movie, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, received 7 Oscar nominations in 2018. Based on early buzz, this is poised for a similar reception. Good luck to him, but I’ll likely cheer for the other nine nominees in the Best Picture category first. This reviewer can’t embrace McDonagh’s pessimistic worldview.

11-01-22

6 Responses to “The Banshees of Inisherin”

  1. Eric Robert Wilkinson Says:

    Loved this and looking forward to my rewatch hopefully today

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry. I won’t be getting on this bandwagon.

      Like

    • I actually gave this 3 stars. I found myself chuckling quite a bit. I was on Padricas’ side, at first, but after a while, I thought, move on already. But I guess back in those days, that’s all you got, friendship. So I get it. I also think Barry Keegan is pretty great. I know how the ending is explained , however, I decided to draw my own conclusion with a happy ending.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Eric Robert Wilkinson Says:

        yeah lots of big laughs in the theater when i first saw it last week… looking forward to a rewatch… it’s dark to be sure as all of McDonagh’s works for stage and screen tend to be – but – I do think it’s finally kinda hopeful in the end, with the two finding a kind of common ground despite their differences

        Liked by 1 person

  2. miniature donkey?!
    I so need to watch this movie

    Liked by 1 person

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