The Banshees of Inisherin


By: Adam Freed

The island of Inisherin floats sleepily within a stones throw of the Irish mainland, and civil war. The diminutive Emerald Isle feels sequestered from the never pictured blood feud of the early 1920’s taking place on the larger island. The troubles on Inisherin however are far more personal.

All complexity is thrown aside as Brendon Gleeson’s Colm hilariously explains that he simply no longer likes his former best friend Padraic, played by a superb Colin Farrell. Despite the subsequent confusion this causes in a relatively dim man, it becomes quite clear that this is not as simple a story as masterful director Martin McDonagh has dressed it up to be.

The dialogue in Banshees is as funny and well written as anything in years. At best these deliveries are sharp, witty and simultaneously simple to the point of self deprecation. This is a film at the pace of a small Irish village 100 years ago, content with its existence yet striving to grasp the “more”promised just beyond its craggy cliffs.

 Be weary of the storyteller in McDonagh who bathes a story in surface level simplicity because beneath the absent minded humor and the slow wittedness of some of the islands inhabitants, lies a depth and despair hidden with intent by all of the entertaining bickering. So much truth is shared in jest. So much pain shrouded in a smile.

To judge Colm and Padraic simply by what they say is to underserve the meaning of this pointed film. James Joyce once said “the actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts” and audiences must look past thin exteriors to engage with the realities that these men present through their behavior. This is a film about longing: for friendship, simplicity, understanding and purpose. But it is equally a cautionary tale that we are promised very little, and to waste a moment by undervaluing those closest to us is quite possibly the greatest crime of all. Seems all too simple.