THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan, and Kerry Condon
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer-director Martin McDonagh has always specialized in pitch black comedies, with some being more pitch black (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and others being more comedic (In Bruges). The Banshees of Inisherin is definitely closer to the former despite reuniting Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson from the latter. That doesn’t mean Banshees isn’t funny, but it’s a quieter humor. The performances are excellent, with both leads deserving of Oscar nods (Barry Keoghan too), and the story is subtly relatable with the political rift that has been dividing friends in the U.S. for a few years now. Overall, it’s another awards worthy offering from all involved.
Director Martin McDonagh has a very particular style that mixes comedy, drama, and absurdity. With In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and now, The Banshees of Inisherin, each of his films are unique, yet he hasn’t missed. This is thanks to his whip-smart scripts and casting decisions, both of which are aced here. Colin Farrell continues to cement his claim as the Best Actor Never Nominated for an Oscar with a performance that should finally put an end to that claim. Add in Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan, and Kerry Condon, and you have another win for McDonagh.
Writer/director Martin McDonagh has always been one of my personal favourites, so it’s no surprise that I loved The Banshees Of Inisherin. This time around, while his trademark wit and dark humour are certainly present, McDonagh trades the more chaotic crime-based stories for a softer and smaller scale tale of an ended friendship that is just as entertaining as his previous efforts. The entire cast delivers absolute ace performances, but the standouts are Colin Farrell’s lovable Pádraic and Kerry Condon as his foul-mouthed sister. This film is an undeniably feckin’ great time.
There is a point in The Banshees of Inisherin where a character questions whether or not he is dull, which is precisely what I’m asking myself about the movie. As a Martin McDonagh film, there are plenty of darkly comedic bits that are interesting, but aside from Colin Farrell delivering what’s bound to be another under-appreciated performance (nominate this man, dammit!), it moved from one inconvenient conversation to the next, aimlessly stewing in its unpleasantness. Maybe the movie is about depression, maybe it’s about self-worth…whatever it’s about, I left the theater asking, “what’s the point?”
An at-last reunification of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, director Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin is one of the best films of the year, and may be McDonagh’s best movie yet. While it does contain McDonagh’s trademark banter-driven humor, it is also significantly darker than one might expect from its marketing. Movies about breakups can be emotionally wrenching, but Banshees’ take on a platonic version mines for something deeper in the viewer, a deep-seated and searing hurt. Farrell and Gleeson are both excellent, but Kerry Condon manages to steal every scene she’s in from underneath them.
This film was reviewed by Nick, Quentin, and Adriano as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.