THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN (2022) l Searchlight | October 28, 2022
Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan.
Director: Martin McDonagh
Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.
TIFF REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
The Banshees of Inisherin is a terribly funny dark comedy that showcases Martin McDonagh’s talent as a writer, while boasting a strong batch of performances from the principal cast.
McDonagh is a name that can sell a film without anyone knowing any details about it, much like Spielberg, Nolan, Fincher or Tarantino. For many cinephiles, he is one of their favourite writer directors after such notable films like In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Personally, I have enjoyed McDonagh’s films but was never amazed by them. Which easily explains my reaction to his latest film, as I enjoyed it but did not think it is one of the greatest films of the year like many other critics.
Set in a small Irish town, the film follows two men who were once best friends until one day when one of them decides that he hates the other, which has alarming consequences for both men and the small community they live in. The screenplay is great, once again highlighting McDonagh’s talents of creating an excellent dark comedy. There are tons of moments throughout the film that will have audiences bursting into laughter with long running jokes, such as the distaste for one of the elderly ladies in the town or the jokes about Pádaric’s animals. Without a doubt, the best scene of the entire film is the twisted yet wildly hilarious scene with the bread truck joke, one that not only left myself but half of the audience in hysterics as we tried to recover for McDonagh’s next witty one liner. At the same time, this film is incredibly dark and will send chills down your spine at times as you see the nuclear fallout from this friendship unfold on screen in front of your eyes. It’s the darkest of McDonagh’s films to date without question, as appendages and blood grace the screen throughout, but it is balanced out very well with the humour to make a pretty crowd pleasing experience.
Obviously, the big selling point of the film is the reuniting of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson for the first time since In Bruges. The two of them are a comedic tour de force, creating a truly toxic relationship as Farrell’s Pádaric tries to find out why their friendship ended while Gleeson’s Colm would rather end his own life rather than speak to or deal with Padaric ever again. Gleeson is truly brooding and menacing as Colm, finding so much in his character’s silence through his facial expressions and body languages. Though, it is Farrell who shines brightest in the film. His bumbling portrayal of Pádaric is truly endearing, immediately bonding the audience to his struggle to regain his best friend and understand what went wrong. Farrell is no stranger to dark comedy, having starred in two of McDonagh’s previous films, and once again nails the comedic aspects of the role while creating a truly sympathetic character… even if you are convinced he’s a bit of an idiot.
Supporting Farrell and Gleeson are Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon, and both of them are outstanding. Keoghan packs a laugh a minute whenever he is on screen as Pádaric’s bumbling friend Dominic, one of the most simple minded inhabitants of Inisherin. He has an infectious personality that creates a truly memorable character, even shrouded in such a dark and bleak film, proving yet again why Keoghan is one of the most versatile young actors in the business currently. Then there is Condon, who is an absolute spitfire. Fierce, strong willed, and wildly independent, Condon has a true no nonsense attitude which is perfect as she calls out both her brother Pádaric and Colm about how childish they are both being. It is the perfect casting opposite Farrell and Gleeson. And as the film progresses, Condon instills a true sense of self-growth within Siobhan as her character slowly comes to the realization that remaining on Inisherin in the midst of Pádaric and Colm’s fight will halt any development in her life.
Rounding out the film is the natural beauty of Ireland which brings the island of Inisherin to life. The cinematography captures the natural beauty in natural lighting, which creates a wonderful visual for the audience to contrast the dark story at play. Also reuniting with McDonagh is composer Carter Burwell, whose musical score for the film captures the darkness but also puts a pep in the film’s pacing to help evoke the humor throughout the film.
There is no doubt that fans of McDonagh’s work will adore this film, as it is incredibly well crafted, and even I would personally rank it as my second favourite film from him after Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Balancing laugh out loud comedy with a incredibly dark, character driven story, Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin features a truly great screenplay that is brought to life by the outstanding performances of Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon, which will easily make it one of the most talked about films of the year.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5