‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ is a comedic dark look at male friendship

“I don’t love you anymore,” Brendan Gleeson’s Colm intones Colin Farrell’s Pádraic in the thrilling scene of The Banshees of Inisherin. It’s a line that would be a throwaway or thin punchline in most other comedies, but Martin McDonagh makes it the heart of this wistful, heartbreaking, and often hilarious film. The standoff between two men, one who wants to be left alone and the other who can’t let go, is as gripping and meaningful as any star-crossed lovers story and perhaps it is the McDonagh’s magnum opus.

The film is set in 1923, at the end of the Irish Civil War, but little more than the sound of gunfire hits the remote island of Inisherin, a fictional part of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. But the conflict finally hits its shores when Colm fails to meet Pádraic for their standing pint at the island pub. After Colm escapes Pádraic’s overtures, he is finally confronted by the man who forces him to admit that their friendship is over. With no apparent malice, no prior argument, Colm was done with Pádraic.

Unfortunately for Colm, you can’t exactly ghost anyone on an island so small that the locals know everyone’s names as well as the names of everyone’s pets and livestock. And certainly not when there’s only one pub to go to. Pádraic, who doesn’t have the slightest desire to drop Colm’s friendship, finds himself constantly drawn into the other man’s orbit, even on occasion he doesn’t actively plead with him to take things back. where they were left. And while the situation breeds hilarity, it also lends itself to seemingly inevitable but unexpected violence.

McDonagh is at his best here, both hilarious and morbid while anchoring every laugh with equal gravity. As Pádraic, Farrell spins in a performance that is at first gormless and later electrified by the apparent desperation to maintain the most meaningful relationship of his life. Gleeson, as a man desperate for something more meaningful than meandering drunken conversations at the local as he nears the end of his life, is both instantly relatable and yet utterly ruthless as he takes action. macabre for denying Pádraic his friendship.

On either side of the incredible performances of the two In Brugge co-stars are the uplifting performances of Kerry Condon as Pádraic’s sister, Siobhán, and Barry Keoghan as Dominic, the butt of the island jokes. Although Condon initially offers her brother succor, she comes to accept more and more that her home is dumbing her down. Dominic de Keoghan proves a foil to Pádraic, then a sop for his friendship with Colm, while just wanting someone, anyone to save him from the drunken abuse of his father, the only policeman on the island.

There’s a lot of laughs to be had in The Banshees of Inisherin but it is done at the cost of blood and tears and results from the deep sadness of men unable to speak of their feelings. And maybe that’s greatly Irish. McDonagh has done a masterful job before, In Brugge and the winner Three billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri but Banshees looks like his most directed and written work to date, a true blend of McDonagh’s acclaimed playwriting abilities and his skills as a filmmaker. It should come as no surprise that the movie once again puts him on the path to awards season gold.

The Banshees of Inisherin is slated for a limited theatrical release on October 21.

Daniel K. Denny