TL;DR – A odd yet sad film of life in a small village that escalates out of all control
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid to see this film.
The Banshees of Inisherin Review –
Today I have a slightly frustrating film to review, and unfortunately for them, it is not their fault. I work out of Australia, and for some reason, this year, many of the big Oscar chances got released a lot later than the rest of the world. For example, today’s film was already out streaming in some places before it got its theatrical release here. I had avoided all spoilers for this film until yesterday when someone ruined a single plot point for me, and I think it ruined a big chunk of this film for me.
So to set the scene, it is 1923 on an island off the Irish coastline, where they are isolated from much of the world, bar the odd explosions from the Irish Civil War they can hear echoing across the water from the mainland. Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell) spends his days working with his dairy cows and nights at the pub with his best friend, Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson). That is until one day, Colm stops talking to him. The town wonders if they have been rowing again, but Pádraic can’t remember them fighting, and his sister Siobhán Súilleabháin (Kerry Condon) is concerned that something has gone very wrong. But Colm insists, ‘I just don’t like you no more’, but that is not an answer for Pádraic.
While I will get into what I hinted about in the introduction, I want to take a moment to champion the incredible things we saw in this film. The first thing that I adored was the care and attention used to construct the setting. Often, movies set in Ireland are filmed on soundstages in England, but here not only have they gone to the countryside of Ireland, but they also went to the Atlantic Islands off the coast of the country where the film is set. Here you feel the salt and the wind, the stone walls made generations ago, and a land of harshness and beauty. There is rarely a frame in this film where your breath is not taken away from the stunning locations. It also helps that the film is going for a much more natural lighting scheme, but at no time did this obfuscate the movie. Instead, it was used to highlight every moment. Add to this costume and set design, and you are taken back in time to the early twentieth century.
To add to this, there is not a dud performance in this entire work, from the leads to the minor roles, like the lady at the store who is always upset that people don’t tell her any news even though she is the local gossip. This might be some of Colin Farrell’s best work, and given his year in 2022, that is saying something. There was always a hint of something sad at the core of Brendan Gleeson’s performance that you can’t quite get to even though you know it is there. Kerry Condon might be the film’s MVP because there is not a scene in the entire movie where she is not commanding the frame with a force that could turn the village into a heap of embers if she so wished. Finally, Barry Keoghan is always captivating, this is a tightrope of a performance, but he nails it.
Now from here, there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. The central conceit of this film is how things start to escalate between Pádraic and Colm as their friendship goes from deteriorating to ripping the town apart. However, no one expects that when Colm says he will start cutting his fingers off that he will follow through. Everything is progressing as you would expect until a critical inciting incident at the end of the second act sends everything that happens in the third into a spiral. Even though I have a spoiler warning here, I won’t mention what that incident is because you won’t see it coming, even if you know something is coming. But if that is spoiled for you, well then you see all the build-up coming, and the emotion is not there, and without that emotion, the third act falls flat. This is not the film’s fault, other than having one key moment to hang everything on, but I have to be honest in that it affected my experience with the film.
In the end, do we recommend The Banshees of Inisherin? Well, everything I have said aside, a dark comedy is still a hard sell for many people, even if the setting is divine. I would say that I would recommend it for the performances if nothing else but there is still a sadness that may go with you. If you liked The Banshees of Inisherin, we would recommend to you The Dressmaker.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Banshees of Inisherin
Directed by – Martin McDonagh
Written by – Martin McDonagh
Music by – Carter Burwell
Cinematography by – Ben Davis
Edited by – Mikkel E. G. Nielsen
Production/Distribution Companies – Film4 Productions, Blueprint Pictures, TSG Entertainment & Searchlight Pictures
Starring – Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan, Pat Shortt, Gary Lydon, Jon Kenny, Aaron Monaghan, Bríd Ní Neachtain, Sheila Flitton, David Pearse, Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola, John Carty, Oliver Farrelly, James Carty, Conor Connolly & Ryan Owens
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: 14A; Germany: 16; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R