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The Banshees of Inisherin (BFI London Film Festival 2022)

3 min read

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in the film THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

is a director who truly made a name for himself over ten years ago with In Bruges; his dark comedy truly stuck the landing with a tightly-written script balanced out with great characters and perfect performances. All these years later, McDonagh has returned to work with the leads of In Bruges, and , to make The . After a five year hiatus, is McDonagh's return to the big screen a triumph or a disappointment?

Set on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, The Banshees of Inisherin follows lifelong friends Padraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson) who find themselves at an impasse when Colm unexpectedly puts an end to their friendship. A stunned Padraic, aided by his sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon) and troubled islander Dominic (Barry Keoghan), endeavours to repair the relationship, refusing to take no for answer. But Padraic's repeated efforts only strengthen his former friend's resolve and when Colm eventually delivers a desperate ultimatum, events quickly escalate. 

Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell in the film THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN.

One cannot know just how refreshing a film like The Banshees of Inisherin is within the ‘dramedy' sub-genre; it can go from being hilarious in one scene to making audiences on the verge of tears in the next. McDonagh has crafted another screenplay that is so tightly written and is able to get the best performances from his actors and he does it with ease. The story itself is fairly straightforward and simple but the way the film escalates throughout makes it a fascinating watch.

While the story is fairly straightforward, the characters themselves are incredibly layered and complex – in particular Padraic, who is performed excellently by Colin Farrell. Farrell is perfectly able to play a character who feels lost, emotional and lonely, mainly because of his fallout with Colm. However, he is able to convey everything so easily and the way he is willing to not give up on his friendship is one that will certainly strike a cord with a lot of people. 

Brendan Gleeson's Colm feels like the complete opposite to Padraic. He strives for excellence with his music and wants to be the next Mozart and when he has that mentality, Colm doesn't want anything to do with Padraic. He kicks his best friend to the curb as a way to focus on his music and in his eyes, sees it as the right thing to do. However, in the rest of Inisherin's eyes, Colm has gone too far. 

Kerry Condon in the film THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN.
Searchlight Pictures

Kerry Condon is a standout in the film as Padraic's sister. She acts as a voice of reason for Padraic and Colm within all the madness that they're inflicting on each other and the rest of the town. Her interactions with her brother are some of the highlights in a film that is incredibly memorable to begin with. The conversations between Siobhan and Padraic are amusing and witty, but can also be serious and dramatic. When the film finds that balance, such as these moments, that is when The Banshees of Inisherin fires on all cylinders.

The film is also gorgeously shot. The cinematography by Ben Davis (Eternals, Three Billboards) is filled with vibrant colours and stunning wide shots of Inisherin that truly work as a way to immerse you into this world and place you on the fictional island that the film is set on. 

The Banshees of Inisherin is another fantastic film from Martin McDonagh. The director has somehow topped himself with his most well-crafted and entertaining film to date while also getting the best performances possible from his actors. Colin Farrell is outstanding as Padraic, giving a layered performance that I can see resonating with so many people, while Brendan Gleeson is fantastic as a man in desperate need of some alone time. The rest of the supporting cast are outstanding but Kerry Condon steals the show as Padraic's sister, Siobhan. This is truly masterful filmmaking from McDonagh and a must watch for all!

The Banshees of Inisherin screened at this year's BFI and will release in UK cinemas on October 21st, 2022.