The Banshees of Inisherin Review

The Writer/Director Martin McDonagh has been on a winning streak of late in his career with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Seven Psychopaths and In Bruges as his last three films. He has garnered a lot of critical acclaim for these movies and a lot of movie fans have loved them as well. The latter of the three I mentioned, In Bruges, brings him full circle with the stars of the film Colin Farrell and Brendon Gleeson. It’s a reunion of sorts for these three who have now made a second film together called, The Banshees of Inisherin. 

Off the coast of Ireland on an island named Inisherin, there is a small community of people who live there. Among them are two longtime friends Padraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendon Gleeson) One day Farrell’s character goes to visit Gleeson’s character and he doesn’t respond to him when he knocks at the door. This is confusing to Ferrell’s character so he confronts Gleeson’s character when he sees him again later that day at the local watering hole. Gleason’s character tells him he doesn’t want to be friends with him anymore. This is the ultimate slap in the face for Farrell’s character because he thought they were good friends. After this things start to unravel for their friendship.

This trio has hit on a hot-button topic in this film that was very important at the time it takes place. The 70s was a tough time in Ireland as the people were going through this important thing in their history. The IRA was involved in a war with England over their belief in religion, Catholic or Protestant, the church or England. This war went on for decades before people stepped in from America and other countries to negotiate peace. Among them was an ex-Senator American, George Mitchell. This movie has an eerily similar plot to this whole ordeal between North and South Ireland over religion. Or what I would call nonsense!

The relationship between the two main characters in this film is one of confusion and despair at times. I was just sitting there in the theater watching what seemed like a good friendship unravel before my very eyes. It was disturbing and confusing because it seemed like these guys generally liked each other quite a bit at one time and for no reason, they get into this feud. It’s very familiar to what happened in Ireland. It brings this whole situation in history full circle. And it makes me sad thinking about it. McDonagh does a great job creating this analogy in the movie and these two amazing actors Farrell and Gleeson bring it home. 

That being said, I have a situation in my own life where I am struggling with a similar situation between myself and a friend. While watching the film it reminded me of my life and how I might be throwing away a relationship I built up for years over a petty disagreement. It’s hard to remember all that you built up between yourself and someone when you need their help and they abandoned you at an important time. But just because you feel one way doesn’t mean the other person feels the same way. Maybe they have different feelings and motivations about the same situation. That’s what makes the whole ordeal confusing. It’s hard to see that you may be going about this the wrong way.

McDonagh, Farrell, and Gleeson have been a great team in regarding the film In Bruges and now they have teamed up once again with great success. These three have a connection to Ireland so this story and film bring everything full circle for them all. Whereas In Bruges was strictly a comedy about two hitmen this film is more of a dark comedy about a serious relationship with political undertones. Even though these films are distinctly different the two leads still have a great connection on screen together. These two films make that very clear. They are a great team the likes of which I haven’t seen since Gene Wilder and Richard Pryer. 

This movie had other actors in it besides Farrell and Gleeson that were superb. Farrell’s character’s sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon) had an emotional arc in the film getting in the middle between these two men. She was the conscience of the viewer in the theater watching these two friends tear their relationship apart. Another character Dominic (Barry Keoghan) was the village idiot. But his character was important because he didn’t get along with his father and that is a key to the war in Ireland as well. Families were split over this nonsensical war. For no reason whatsoever. These actors played their part in the movie as well as they possibly could considering who they were working opposite and the script that had to work with. They were both great in the film.

Besides all the dramatic stuff and the dark comedic stuff, this movie has a lot of incredible technical aspects that are just fantastic. Such as the cinematography by Ben Davis. He was able to capture the landscapes of this beautiful island in a way that made the scenery breathtaking to behold. I was blown away by every scene in this film. This movie is definitely a contender for the Oscar in this category. Other aspects of the film I thought were great was the music. The score, by Carter Burwell, is filled with Irish folk songs and operatic singing. There were also scenes of men playing Irish songs in the bar with violins and other instruments that helped bring this story and film home for me. When I mean home I mean I have a lot of Irish blood in me and I felt like I was back there with these characters in this movie. Like I was transported back there. This was very nice for me.

Besides the technical aspects, the acting by the leads, the music, and the political undertones the movie had a comedic side that kept me laughing throughout despite the tough subject matter it pertains to talk about. There were various scenes where characters get into arguments over nothing and start cursing at one another which had me in stitches. The vulgar language was flying around like love bugs in September. It was everywhere, but it was very funny at the same time. Also, the Irish accents might have been hard for some to understand but I loved hearing every word from all the characters. It was a breath of fresh air hearing this Irish brogue from various characters throughout the film.

The Banshees of Inisherin is a film I’ll not soon forget. It has a subject matter that is near and dear to my heart. The struggle between the north and south of Ireland had always bothered me. And over what? religion! Even though this happened decades ago it still bothers me. The performances by Farrell and Gleeson opposite one another once again are phenomenal. They bring out the best in each other on screen. They will both surely gather Academy Award consideration for their performances. The writing and direction from McDonagh are first-rate and on par with his other work in the past if not better. The music and cinematography are both incredible as well. I was completely blown away by this very important piece of cinema. It’s one of my favorite films of the year as of right now and definitely will be considered for the Best Picture Oscar when the time comes.

5 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

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