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Howard McQuitter II

The Banshees of Inisherin

★★★★★

Searchlight Pictures 2022 

Drama/Comedy                                                                                                                                                                       

By HOWARD MCQUITTER II

The opening scene in The Banshees of Inisherin is an aerial view of the (fictional) title Irish island, a beautiful green expanse of ground and a deep cerulean sky. The year is 1923, just shortly after Ireland (except six of the most northern counties of Ireland that remain to this day with the United Kingdom) got its independence from England. 

From the beginning in The Banshees it seems that a once strong relationship between Colm (Brendan Gleeson) and Pádraic (Colin Farrell) has been severed by Colm. A hint from Siobhán, Pádraic’s sister, showing light on what is to follow through the film replies, “Maybe he just don’t like you no more.”

Colm’s reason for severing the friendship with Pádraic is because he finds him to be dull. Colm sees Pádraic’s friendship to be a hindrance to his writing music and playing the violin. The only problem is Pádraic doesn’t necessarily take the hint. Pádraic tries to talk to Colm at the local pub, on the country road, and even going to his home. Colm always makes the conversation short if at all. Another character, Dominic Kearney, played by Barry Keoghan (‘ 71 [2014], The Killing of a Sacred Deer [2017]), an offbeat young man with an innocence, pals along with Pádraic at times. Dominic does know both men. But the biggest character next to Colm and Pádraic is Siobhán, played by Kerry Condon.

Siobhán and Pádraic share a farm together, a cow farm to be exact, but they also raise a pet donkey and a horse. Siobhán has outgrown the island of Inisherin and eventually leaves for a better life. She loves her brother, writing him often telling him to leave the island.

Moreover, Colm begins to take drastic measures by telling Pádraic each time he bothers him he will cut a finger off. Brutal indeed. The local priest warns Colm in the confessional about the serious sin of self-mutilation and  “lesser” sin of punching the local cop. It’s mentioned once or twice that Colm may be suffering from depression. I think The Banshees of Inisherin is the darkest of Martin McDonagh’s three films: In Bruges (2008), Seven Psychopaths (2012) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  (2017).

Although Irish politics is kept beyond the horizon, we hear and see cannon fire indicating that there is a civil war between the provisional government and the Irish Republican Army. Maybe the conflict on the mainland and the rift between Colm and Pádraic is the director/writer’s desire to depict conflict on a grand scale and in a more personal way.

Cast: Colin Farrell (Pádraic Súilleabháin), Brendan Gleeson (Colm Doherty), Barry Keoghan (Dominic Kearney), Gary Lydon (Peadar Kearney), Pat Shortt (Jonjo Devine), Sheila Flitton (Mrs. McCormick), Bríd Ní Neachtain (Mrs. O’Riordan), Jon Kenny (Gerry), Aaron Monaghan (Declan), David Pearse (Priest), Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola ( Female Singer).

Director and writer: Martin McDonagh.

Music: Carter Burwell.

Cinematography: Ben Davis.       

Running time:114 minutes.

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