Film Review: The Banshees of Inisherin

Mild spoilers ahead!

I didn’t get the chance to see The Banshees of Inisherin when it came out at the cinemas, but I heard all about the rave reception it was getting from both critics and viewers. So when it came on to Disney + a couple of days ago, I couldn’t resist giving it a go to see if it lived up to the hype it was getting… It did.

Martin McDonagh’s latest entry is described as a tragicomedy, which to me, was a bit of a stretch. Although The Banshees of Inisherin does coax you in at the start with some light humour and clever wit, the story that unfolds is majority tragedy, the tale of a broken friendship. This is a really heavy film, it’s core themes are both relatable and unsettling. There is very little joy that comes from this film, but my word, it’s beautifully made.

The film takes place on a small island off the coast of Ireland during the Irish Civil War in 1923. It’s a beautiful, intimate location and from the offset you get the vibe that everyone knows everyone. Our lead character, Pádraic (Colin Farrell) seems to be very set in his daily routine. So when he goes to meet his close friend Colm (Brendan Gleeson) for their usual drink at the pub, he finds himself shocked when he is abruptly being ignored for no apparent reason. Colm claims he simply doesn’t like Pádraic any longer and doesn’t want him in his life. Something that Pádraic finds very difficult to accept.

If you’ve ever felt lonely, if you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong, if you ever feel like that time is getting away from you’re wasting your life, then you will be able to relate to the two leads throughout this film. Although Colm’s motivations for cutting Pádraic out of his life seem harsh on the surface, you can sort of understand why he’s doing it. Likewise, you can understand why Pádraic is struggling to let Colm go and is desperately trying to cling on to this relationship that meant so much to him.

This really is one of Farrell’s finest performances, he conveys Pádraic’s conflict and despair perfectly as he juggles between respecting Colm’s wishes and trying to fix their once strong bond. Meanwhile, he is trying to keep hold of his caring sister Siobhan, (Kerry Condon) who is longing for a life away from the island. As well as this, he is trying to be a surrogate father figure to troubled local boy Dominic (Barry Keoghan). The pressure builds on all sides and Pádraic’s struggles never really ease. Things begin to escalate further once Colm makes clear the lengths he will go to to ensure that Pádraic stays out of his life… What begins as a sad tale of a broken friendship quickly turns in to something much darker.

The third act of this film is some of the most powerful (and depressing) storytelling I’ve seen in a long time, a harrowing look at the human condition and what people can be capable of when they feel alone and helpless. It’s certainly not subject matter that everyone will find entertaining, but for me, the rawness of it all was gripping. I did not necessarily find myself satisfied by the conclusion, but I have no doubt that this was the intent. One thing is for certain, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.

The Banshees of Inisherin truly is a masterclass in filmmaking. The cinematography is on point, the performances are incredible, the story may be bleak but it is crafted perfectly. All these ingredients have come together and the final result is one of the best films of 2022 and one that is fully deserving of the praise it has received. If you have a Disney + subscription, then you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by not checking it out… Just be prepared to sit in a corner and cry once you’re done.

I give The Banshees of Inisherin a 9/10.


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