This is one feckin’ good movie.
During the Irish Civil War in the early 1920s, another conflict was taking place on a small island between two former friends. Local farmer Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and folk musician Colm (Brendan Gleeson) had been longtime drinking buddies, but one day, abruptly, Colm says no more.
Seeing his friendship with Pádraic leading to nothing but dull conversation and wanting to commit more to his music, Colm wants to end the relationship completely. However, not wanting to let go, Pádraic continues trying to rekindle things by talking to Colm, much to the latter’s annoyance. Eventually, their conflict starts negatively affecting each other and those around them.
At first glance, “Banshees” may seem like a simple tale of a friendship ending, but as time goes on, it’s clear that there’s a lot more going on. The film explores what friendship means to different people, what certain people want from a friendship, what people want from life at a certain age and if simple pleasantries are enough to have a relationship.
The movie, written and directed by Martin McDonagh who previously helmed “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” digs into all of this while also making the experience quite funny. There’s heartache in “Banshees,” no doubt about it, but McDonagh still manages to infuse the film with dark humor that adds another layer to the viewing.
While it is funny, “Banshees” does not hold back from entering some dark places tonally. As the movie goes on there’s some ugliness on display that causes people to be at odds with each other, and McDonagh rightly parallels this with a civil war.
The lead-up to that eventual ugliness is fascinating, too. It’s an interesting dynamic that Pádraic and Colm have. Colm, for example, shows no malice toward Pádraic, he just simply doesn’t want the friendship anymore.
Pádraic, meanwhile, who doesn’t seem to socially aware, simply can’t cope with that fact and simply keeps prodding. It’s a back-and-forth that continuously makes for interesting drama, as it engages with the ideas listed above.
While the movie focuses on Colm and Pádraic, though, it is absolutely elevated by its supporting characters, too. A great example is Siobhan, Pádraic’s sister, played wonderfully by Kerry Condon. She is an exceptionally fascinating character in her own right.
Siobhan is torn between sticking up for her brother, understanding Colm’s point of view and wanting to leave the island to live her own life, and it’s all compelling to see. Her, and others the film introduce do a lot to enhance the picture.
Of course the main stars of the film do their job very well. Farrell captures his characters naivety and growing anger successfully while Gleeson does award-caliber work in showing Colm’s desire to move on with his life, as well as his sympathy and frustrations with Pádraic
“The Banshees of Inisherin” is definitely one of 2022’s stronger films. It’s a captivating watch from start to finish with a fine balance of humor and emotional scenes. Plus, the design work and cinematography makes it a visually appealing picture. Definitely recommended. 4.5 out of 5.