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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review: The Banshees of Inisherin

In 1923 on the fictional Isle of Inisherin off the Irish Coast, two mates, Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson) engage in a row when Colm tells Pádraic "I just don't like you anymore." Baffled by the proclamation, Pádraic persists in trying to make amends, meeting resistance from Colm at every turn. The row escalates under the watchful eyes of the entire village as Colm makes good on a gruesome promise. The threat of death-as if brought by a banshee-falls over the village as no one knows just how far the feud will go.

Directed by Martin McDonagh

Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan & Kerry Condon.

There is no denying that Martin McDonagh, for the past 15 years has wrote and directed some of the most unique dark comedies in recent memory. His ability to mash dark themes with witty humour is highly admirable and shines through in his work most prominently with ‘In Bruges’, which I personally believe to be his best.

That trait is as clear as day here as well. The Banshees of Inisherin is one of this years best with a barrel of laughs the entire runtime which, as his films do, takes a dark turn and becomes more thematically rich than ever. This year has been very strong with performances, yet Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Kerry Condon have proven why they should & could be finally nominated this year at the Oscars. It is as clear as day that these actors are giving more than they need to be giving, creating great empathy through every scene. Subtly building up a tightness to them as they become more and more unhappy following the events throughout the film. As well as giving us wonderful, hilarious delivery of comedy in Irish fashion.

Everyone at some point in their lives feel like they’ve wasted time, or fear the loss of time. This is a conundrum that Brendan Gleeson’s character (Colm) faces, forcing his hand to make a stand and decide to cut out the man who makes him feel as though time is slipping away. Even though the island of inisherin all tend to find Pádraic a nice and pleasant man, he is occasionally faced with the word “dull”, in which he finds quite an offensive word and clearly took it to heart, as in multiple instances, he asks people whether they find him dull.

While not explicitly stated, Pádraic is depressed without the ones around him. As he is stuck in a bubble of a recycled life, repeating the same thing everyday, he is unaware of the fact that he doesn’t have too much worth spending time on. All he does is go to the pub & have a long chat with his best friend Colm. Pádraic finds the idea of being depressed silly and it isn’t until he loses his friend and slowly everyone around him, that he is quite depressed and that there’s nothing much more out there for him. Time is slipping away and yet, he still has yet to do something about it.

As a atheist with a lack of religious knowledge, I picked up that there were a lot of religious symbolism but unfortunately I was unable to pick up on what it all meant. This is something that over rewatches, I will come to understand. That said, through the cinematography we are given some incredibly beautiful shots full of life and prosperity. Martin truly understands the power of close ups, or lingering on shots, or throwing a character close to the far side of a frame to show the distance within their mind or how they’re slipping away from the person they share the sequence with. Martin McDonagh keeps it beautifully consistent, and accompanied by the atmospheric sound design, he breathes life into Inisherin and leaves us a lot to interpret and disgest.

The Banshees of Inisherin leaves on an ambiguous note, not entirely giving us answers to what the film means, but gives us enough to understand the thematic importance of the story. Traditional, more passive audience’s may leave with a lot of questions, if you’re one to analyse and break down a films “point”, then this is the biggest of recommendation. A consistently hilarious script with sharp, subtle directing & sublime performances, this is one of the best films of the year and one that I assure will get even better with time.

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