Director Martin McDonagh, and actors Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell reunite after the brilliant In Bruges for a hilarious and dark comedy infused with performances against a stunning backdrop.
Set in 1923, Padraic (Colin Farrell) is a simple-minded farmer living off the coast of Ireland. As expected, he is self-deprecating, fond of a few pints, and a little bit looney with his pet donkey. But one day his life is turned upside down when his “best friend” and fiddle player Colm (Brendan Gleeson) decides not to be his friend anymore. Colm sees his time coming to an end and wants to commit to composing music and making an impact on the world. Padraic takes this poorly and continues to try to connect with Colm, who begins to self-mutilate in an effort to keep Padraic away.
Padraic’s stubbornness is at odds with his wise sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon) who tells him to move on and take advice from Colm. Indeed Dominic (Barry Keoghan) looks to be a surrogate friend for Padraic, who instead pushes him to turn mean and try to negatively impact Colm’s life.
For a simple story, The Banshees of Inisherin takes it and runs far, with compelling characters, amazing vignettes, and many twists that lead the film to a strong conclusion. Considering the times the film is set, there is so much subtext around social norms and the impact of the war that feels enough of an aside to still allow the central story to breathe.
Farrell is absolutely phenomenal. He is emotional at the right times and plays the daft Padraic with enough sentimentality to connect with the audience and keep them onside. Gleeson is equally as solid, though doesn’t have enough opportunity to demonstrate as much as a significant range. Condon and Keough are both memorable in their supporting roles, demonstrating their talent in these smaller character positions that would otherwise be forgotten.
McDonagh proves himself as a visionary director and storyteller that says bigger things about society. Like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the film is packed with style and emotion. But most impactful of all is his ability to make tragic figures out of the core characters and still make a picture that is funny and sad, and most of all, inspired and inspiring.