Movie Review: The Banshees by Inisherin

Movie Review: The Banshees by Inisherin

tea In Bruges The dream team of Martin McDonagh, Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell are back in a pitch black story about the end of a friendship on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland

Returning to the familiar territory of a wild and rocky outpost on the west coast of Ireland, Martin McDonagh’s latest film tells a story so simple, yet so terrifying that it will leave you wondering for days what you just saw after the credits roll.

McDonagh’s work has always possessed an irony and a certain, very Irish, manic joy that mixes the surreal with sudden flashes of violence and dim myth. in the banshees, he arranges them all into a drearily funny, sad story about the end of a friendship between two old buddies.

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Watch our interview with Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell

The playwright of The cripple of Inishmaan and The Lieutenant from Inishmore and director of the popular Sleeper hit In BrugesHe sets his trap within the first six minutes of his film. And what a trap.

There’s Brendan Gleeson as Colm, slumped in a chair in his cottage on the edge of the world (well, the fictional island of Inisherin in western Ireland in 1923). He looks like he just spent a very dark night of the soul thinking about it. . . Well, life and the whole damn thing. Suddenly, Colin Farrell appears at the window as the puppy-like Padraic. He’s here to meet Colm, his best friend in the whole world, so they can both go to the local pub and perform their daily and noble ritual of shitty talk over bottles of Guinness.

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However, Colm is not thirsty or has made a fateful decision. He bluntly says to a confused Pádraic, “I don’t like you anymore.” “You like me,” Pádraic replies, half-smiling, and then his voice falls silent. . . Colm wants to be left alone, play the violin and think about Mozart. As he says: “I have changed. I just don’t have room for boredom in my life anymore.”

It sets in motion a tale of mutual discord, with both men making grotesque efforts to prove their point. Pádraic insists the friendship must continue, but Colm’s determination to end it all leads him to a terrible blood oath. Like Lee Marvin and Toshirō Mifune in Hell in the Pacific Conversely, it goes very badly, very quickly.

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Watch our interview with director Martin McDonagh

Avid musician Colm’s cottage is a bohemian den, with African masks dangling from the ceiling and a gleaming gramophone in pride of place. Cosmically boring but kind Pádraic tends his small herd of cattle and shares a more conventional home with his unmarried bookish sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon), where he loves his animals (and this is the best movie with a donkey yet Shrek). How, you might be wondering, were these guys even friends?

In Brut: Gleeson as Colm and Farrell as Pádraic

Meanwhile, grenades and machine guns bang on the nearby mainland as civil war ominously rolls on like rumor, playing a grating allegory of Padraic and Colm’s own struggle. As spineless and abusive local security guard Peadar Kearney (Gary Lydon) blithely notes while looking forward to a paid trip to oversee an execution: “The Free State lads are executing a couple of the IRA lads… or is it the other way around ?”

Farrell’s performance as Pádraic, a nice, harmless man who’s been brought down, is compelling. You can see his stunned face turn into sustained close-ups to dismay and finally anger. yew The Lieutenant from Inishmore had mad padraic, banshees gives us Sad Pádraic.

The voice of reason in all of this, of course, is the no-nonsense and highly intelligent Siobhán. Brilliantly played by Tipperary actor Condon (who was so great at it breaking Bad and Better call Saul), the dumbed-down island and her confused men drive her to despair. “Sure, he’s always been boring!” She thunders angrily at Colm when he tells her why he is no longer friends with her brother.

Kerry Condon as Siobhan in The Banshees of Inisherin.

McDonagh was accused of having shamrock tinted glasses, but you could see it banshees as revenge for Wild mountain thyme and his film is populated by a supporting cast of warped Irish archetypes. The black-clad old woman Mrs. McCormick (Sheila Flitton) appears restless as a bare ledge, like one of them Macbeth‘s witches or, well, a banshee. When she scares poor Pádraic one too many times, he yells at her, “Ya feckin’ nutbag.”

The embittered and judgmental priest (David Pearse) throws Colm out of the confessional with very unchristian language. There is also a shopkeeper’s gun/gossip and the chauvinistic and cruel Garda who one day beats up Pádraic on the quay and bursts into tears. Along with flawless twists and turns from Gleeson, Farrell and Condon, Barry Keoghan as the troubled young islander Dominic subtly plays with any notion that he’s the village idiot and offers a glimmer of philosophical insight. We also see another reunited duo in the form of D’Unbelievables Pat Shortt and Jon Kenny, the former playing cheerful bartender Jonjo and the latter a semi-awake barfly.

Farrell and Barry Keoghan

Filmed over two months on Inis Mór and Oileán Acla, spectacular views dwarf players and melting sunsets and seasonal changes mark the passage of time in this war of attrition. Carter Burwell’s darkly atmospheric soundtrack billows like fog and Ben Davis’ superb cinematography highlights vivid colors like a John Hinde postcard. McDonagh also takes off his tweed cap Ryan’s daughter with sprawling beach scenes and the haunting whispers of the townsfolk. Even the westerns by John Ford have it all. Pádraic and Colm are like circling gunslingers and there’s plenty of shots through doors and windows.

Entrenchment leads to the inevitable freefall of savagery. Is it a moral story? A parable about men’s inability to communicate? A twisted comedy? however you cut it, banshees is funny, powerful, grotesque and incredibly sad. If you like the black stuff, be warned – this is a brewery of mourning.

Alan Corr @CorrAlan2

The Banshees by Inisherin hits theaters this Friday, October 21st


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