Dark drama The Banshees of Inisherin reunites maestro Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) with his In Bruges leads Colin Farrell and Brendon Gleeson. Set in 1923 on an island off the Irish mainland, the film tells the story of wide-eyed Padraic (Farrell) and fiddler Colm (Gleeson), who have lived as friends for many years, often drinking pints together at the local pub. One day, Colm tells Padriac that he no longer wants to be his friend and would rather focus on music. This shocks Padriac, who lives with his sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon, Better Call Saul), who tries to calm his feelings of rejection. After a few attempts at reconciliation, things turn antagonistic between the two former friends and begin to escalate into violence.
The Banshees of Inisherin features McDonagh’s trademark mixture of drama and black humor, which has earned him a nomination for Best Director and his third nomination for Best Original Screenplay. He also reunites with a few of his partners behind the camera. The Academy Award-nominated score by Carter Burwell contributes to the film’s gloom and the camera work by Ben Davis captures the hazy, yet striking Irish countryside.
The film is more subdued than McDonagh’s previous work, driven by the performances of its exceptional cast. Farrell, who was unrecognizable as the Penguin in The Batman, delivers another knockout performance as a simpleton who does not know how to deal with losing his friend, with his bright, carefree aura dimming over the course of the movie. Condon does well as Siobhan, who cares for her brother like a mother, and struggles with the possibility of leaving life on the island behind. Gleeson is calm as Colm, but his calm wears as Padriac continuously annoys him with his attempts at rekindling friendships. Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) gives a solid performance as Dominic, an abused young man taken in by Padriac and Siobhan, who helps provide perspective to Padriac on the situation. The cast is certainly deserving of their respective Academy Award nominations for this film.
The Banshees of Inisherin received other Academy Awards nominations including Best Picture and Best Editing. While it may not be the best film of the year, it is certainly a well-crafted work of prestige. It’s not as thrilling as Top Gun: Maverick or Everything Everywhere All at Once, but its talented cast brings to life a peculiar tale of rejection and loneliness.