The Banshees of Inisherin
It’s 1st April 1923 on the Irish island of Inisherin, when, out of the blue, Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson) wants to break ties with Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell). He no longer has time for their dull conversations, he says, and would rather focus on his music. The other man isn’t ready to give up on their lifelong friendship so easily, but the battle to win it back turns gruesome.
An invigorating blend of witty banter and hard-hitting philosophical pondering, Martin McDonagh’s dramedy script would function equally well in a theatrical chamber-piece setting, but the mise en scène takes full advantage of the possibilities that film provides. The camera calmly explores the rich coastal landscape, the animals, the rural communal life.
The idyllic microcosm is betrayed by the war-stricken main island looming in the background. Every now and then, rifle fire is heard, inferring parallels between the two disputes. Alongside gloomy pieces of German opera, the feature’s score is comprised of haunting flutes and harps, and an occasional bell drawing parallels with the death-bringing song of the titular spirits. The “Banshees of Inisherin” refers to the song Colm composes and plays on his fiddle, fearing the passive role those mythical beings may have taken on.
There is a straightforwardness to these isolated protagonists, a simplicity in their daily lives and unspoken desires that would trip up a number of actors. Not only do Farrell and Gleeson channel their respective characters superbly, they manage to make their performances in The Banshees of Inisherin high points of their already impressive careers.
The In Bruges reunion of McDonagh and his Irish leading men premiered in Venice, where its screenplay and Farrell’s performance were awarded with the festival’s coveted accolades. This tale of loneliness and pride is one of the highlights screening at the London Film Festival before hitting cinemas later this month, and will undoubtedly be on any “best of” list of 2022.
The Banshees of Inisherin is released nationwide on 21st October 2022.
Watch the trailer for The Banshees of Inisherin here: