The Two Reviews: The Banshees of Inisherin

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022, Film4 Productions / Blueprint Pictures / TSG Entertainment)

Featuring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Pat Shortt, Jon Kenny and Barry Keoghan. Cinematography by Ben Davis. Music by Carter Burwell. Written and Directed by Martin McDonagh.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Martin McDonagh hits all the right notes on his return to Ireland and the re-acqauinting of his In Bruges stars Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. Like he has done so in his previous stage plays, the British director (with Irish connections of course) casts his eye on a sense of Irishness that is not unfamiliair to those who have been enduring twee film reconstructions of their heritage and culture since the 1920s. And it is the early 1920s when McDonagh sets his tale. During the Irish Civil War to be precise – a bloody period after Irish independence when those who didn’t want partition on the island fought against those who had agreed to it – and this indeed sits as a metaphorical context. But it is not all about that. It is a very dark comedy-drama set on a fictional island off the west coast of Ireland (shot on the beautiful islands of Árainn Mhór and Achill), where the scene is set for an odd, and often brutal, de-coupling of two male friends. At times it as if Tarantino had directed an episode of Father Ted.

Like Tarantino, McDonagh’s skill is very evident in his dialogue writing. There is hilarity and wit in every sentence uttered, and when things appear to be getting too nasty, there is always a phrase or word that manages to dissipate the intensity. I also admire the way in which the cast sign in for the script wholeheartedly, even though the whole thing seems a bit uneven at times. Colin Farrell and his character’s endearment is a source of greatness for the film, while Brendan Gleeson carries the weight of a god-awful character with tremendous power. Kerry Condon (who, yes, was in Better Call Saul) ensures that the most sensible character in the film offers a welcome divergence for the viewer.

Banshees is a triumph mainly due to the beautiful setting (up there with Ryan’s Daughter and The Field in that regard) and the passionate commitment to comedy and drama by the cast. McDonagh succesfully creates a world that you can easily inhabit for two hours. You get to know the geography of the island and intimate with the various inhabitants (the publican; the garda; the busy-body shopkeeper; the spooky old woman). And although the parable presented doesn’t exactly hit the profound notes as intended, I found myself wanting to stay around for another while after the ending so that I could engross myself more in that world.

Reviewed by JJ McDermott

**********************************

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I sat very relaxed throughout this film, but at certain gruesome parts I had my eyes covered and I did miss a pivotal moment as a result. The film began at a slow pace, which gives you time to take in the wonderful scenery of the west coast of Ireland. It also gives us time to admire Colin Farrell as he walks to the cottage with the stone walls on each side of the road. The animals provide a beautiful accompaniant to the photogenic backdrop and they act (and behave) so well!

There was plenty of humour and plenty of tragedy, and I felt it hard to understand the meaning of the friendship amidst all the madness. But it is played so brilliantly by these two great Irish actors – Farrell and Gleeson. It was also enjoyable to be able to put names on most of the all-Irish cast. I was a bit disappointed by the way it ends so quickly, but I was completely engrossed by it and I truly enjoyed the film as a whole. 

Reviewed by Bridie McDermott

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