Review: The Banshees of Inisherin

Good morning, everyone and Happy ‘snowed in again’ Friday! I’m exaggerating. The roads melted yesterday and froze over again in the night. That’s what happens when the temperature gets below 32 degrees, and everything is soaking wet. Schools announced reopening yesterday and quickly changed their minds again this morning. Schools. You know, those buildings full of smart people? Yeah. Not so much…

This morning let’s review the 2022 film The Banshees of Inisherin. I saw a trailer for this film before the screening of M3GAN and it looked interesting. I’m a little obsessed with all things ‘Irish’ since it’s rumored my ancestors were potato farmers in Northern Ireland. We incited an insurrection against the local government, were captured, and sold into the American slave market. Somewhere along the line, my people took interest in Native Americans and a whole lot of cross breeding happened. I’m the mixture of two cultures known for alcohol abuse. One is pale and hairy while the other is dark AF and can’t grow a beard if his life depended on it. Basically, the genetic representation of “go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass ‘go’, and do not collect $200”.

From Wikipedia: The Banshees of Inisherin is a 2022 black tragicomedy film directed, written, and co-produced by Martin McDonagh. Set on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, the film stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two lifelong friends who find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them; Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan also star. It reunites Farrell and Gleeson, who previously worked together on McDonagh’s directorial debut, In Bruges.

This film takes place on a fictional, small island off the coast of Ireland during the Irish civil war of 1923. The population is scarce on the island, and everyone knows everything about everyone else…except our main character Pádraic Súilleabháin (yes, I copied and pasted that name) who can’t figure out why his lifelong friend Colm Doherty no longer likes him. The breakup happens suddenly and with no explanation. Also, no one on the island knows any details about the civil war taking place on the shore of the mainland. They can see and hear random explosions from time to time, but don’t understand why everyone is fighting. The island thrives on word-of-mouth news.

I’ll just leave it at that.

Life on the island appears to have a very scheduled existence. At 2 o’clock daily, the men meet at the village pub and do the stereotypical things the Irish do in film. They drink pints of warm, dark beer and ramble on about anything and everything. Colm Doherty has come to realize he wants more in life before his is over.

First, let’s get this out of the way. The actors in this film speak with a STRONG Irish dialect and use a bit of Irish slang. I recognized a lot of this from researching dialogue for my novel Far From Home and I smiled at how much I remembered. I couldn’t believe I knew what they were talking about! Keep your Google translate handy, or a web page displaying common Irish slang, and you should be fine.

Once (if) your ears attune to the speech, you’re good to go. That’s a good thing because this film is 95% dialog. Think of a Kevin Smith film with a harsh accent and drier humor. That being said, the dialog is hilarious, personally reminding me a bit of Clint Eastwood’s emotionless wit from Gran Torino. These two men have absolutely nothing in common but have somehow managed to stomach one another for years due to lack of variety.

Also, this film takes a sudden dark turn which had me laughing aloud during several scenes. Granted, my ears had minor problems translating the dialog, but your average southern white dude may find this a bit taxing. If that’s the case, just shut off your brain and enjoy the gorgeous cinematography. The contrast of grey clouds atop blue ocean washing over a field of green is mesmerizing at times, making me want to investigate my family’s rumored homeland before I pass on to the next plane of existence. Beautiful.

No one in my family kept records. Irish or Native American. We’re just here.

Ultimately, I could relate to the two men’s conflict in this tale. Coming from a small town where everyone is in everyone else’s business, and you’re destined to come face to face every Saturday at the local Wal-Mart, I know what it’s like trying to avoid that one person who ‘no longer does it for you’. When the confrontational face to face happens, and it eventually will, it’s never pleasant. The two men rarely speak in loud voices to one another. One of them is officially ‘done’ with little chance of reconciliation, and the other is just plain confused, not realizing he is the type of person others claim him to be. It’s an Irish stalemate between two grumpy men who refuse to budge.

This film, although up for several prestigious awards, is not for everyone. I’m a person who loves films full of heavy dialogue and world building. The Banshees of Inisherin is exactly that, transporting you back to 1920’s Ireland with minimal effort. Technology on the island is rare and everything appears saturated and cold in every scene. It exhibits a feeling of isolation, and the island begins to feel a little claustrophobic as Pádraic’s haters begin to multiply.

If you’re into authentic period pieces with heavy dialogue, this will be a film that’s right up your alley. If you’re into everything Marvel, not so much. I enjoyed most of this film, but I honestly got a little lost toward the end. I’m not sure if the writer didn’t know how to fade to black or if I just need to rewatch it. Good luck either way.




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