THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN – A Review by Cynthia Flores

THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN – A Review by Cynthia Flores

What happens when you wake up one day and your best, and only close friend, decides that he doesn’t like you anymore? Furthermore, he would like you to stop talking or bothering him. What would you do next? Especially if you both lived in a tiny town on a small island. That is the question this funny, sad, dark film full of humanity asks. 

The Banshees of Inisherin is set on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland in the 1920s, during the time of the Irish Civil War. That can be heard and seen across the waves of the small town. This is where lifelong friends Pádriac Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell) and Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson) live. Pádriac is a sweet, mild-mannered, happy-go-lucky guy, and Colm is an older, more creative man of music and art. Each day, Pádriac and Colm meet at two pm to go for a drink in the only pub on the island. It’s a daily routine. On this particular day, however, everything changes. Colm ignores Pádriac when he calls. He doesn’t answer the door, which is how the trouble begins.

They find themselves at an impasse as Colm unexpectedly ends their friendship. A stunned Pádriac, with the help of his loving sister Siobhán (Kerry Condon) and a young troubled islander Dominic (Barry Keoghan), wants to figure out what happened. Pádriac tries to repair the relationship, refusing to take no for an answer. But Pádriac’s constant efforts only anger his former friend. Finally, Colm delivers an absurd and desperate ultimatum of what will happen if Pádriac doesn’t leave him alone, and the situation quickly escalates. With shocking consequences neither of them sees coming. 

When the writer/director Martin McDonagh (the same man that gave us the award-winning 2018 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) talked about the idea at the core of the film, and why he made it he is quoted as saying:

“The Irish Civil War was a tragedy; that’s the context here. Examining it and trying to understand how things can get dragged out of shape, maybe we can face it down and not take that path. I hope the film will remind people that making nasty or harmful decisions has a lasting effect.” 

Also, McDonagh had never made a period drama before and reveled in bringing historical towns and characters to life. “When you set something in the past it opens up a lot of possibilities” he said. The Banshees of Inisherin does not adhere to the strict boundaries of history. Instead, it is its own self-contained fantasy: “a mythical place, wilder than the mainland, a streak of madness permeating its bones.” 

The Banshees of Inisherin is as Irish as you can get. It does not have subtitles but sometimes needs them due to the thick brogue. But what it does have is a powerhouse of heartbreaking acting by Colin Farrell and a surprising turn by the young actor Barry Keoghan that plays the sad, mistreated son of the town’s single brutal policeman. The script is laugh-out-loud funny at times before it hits you with the heartbreak of a lost friendship. The film’s direction and look will help make it a classic. Ben Davis has an eye for shooting this lonely landscape. His cinematography is the silent character that holds this story tightly with his muted colors and intimate shots. Also, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson have always had great chemistry, which shines in this movie. They first worked together in the 2008 film In Bruges, also written/directed by Martin McDonagh. Fourteen years is too long to wait again to see them both in the same movie working so well together. 

I give The Banshees of Inisherin 5-stars. It’s a feast of Irish stubbornness and pride, and It’s sure to be on the top 10 lists this year. 


Directed by: Martin McDonagh

Written by: Martin McDonagh

Rated: R

Selig Rating: 5 Stars

Running Time: 1hr 49minDrama / Comedy

Wide Release: In theaters only November 4th

Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan


The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

4 Stars – Good movie

3 Stars – OK movie

2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

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