The Banshees of Inisherin
The traditional idea would be to frame the film from Gleeson’s perspective, an artist who can’t sever their ties with the world is a motif that is not uncommon in narratives, but Farrell takes center stage, framing it from a simple man’s perspective that his best friend no longer wants to talk to him all of a sudden. And Gleeson doesn’t mince words, he’s harsh but he takes no pleasure in rebuking his lifelong friend, and every word that is spoken cuts like a knife. This abrupt ending to their relationships sends Pádraic spiraling, starting a volatile friendship with Dominic (Barry Keoghan), becoming angry with himself, and the island. This eventually comes home and begins affecting his relationship with his sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon), which gives her some of the funniest moments in the film. Ultimately the dissolving of their relationship is in the background, but without her, Pádraic has no connections to the world. Which inevitably traps Siobhan on the island for longer than she ever planned on staying, but also has moments of tender heartbreak, most notably in a very talked-about scene with Barry Keoghan.
Darkly comedic violence has been a trademark of McDonagh films, the shootouts in “In Bruges,” the shotgun scene in “Seven Psychopaths,” and the brutally humorous assaults in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” He likes his violence with a dose of comedy and it works in the worlds he creates, “Banshees” is the darkest he’s gone yet though, the imagery is dark and very unexpected but unfortunately appropriate when showing how bad the rift between these two men has gotten. There’s no enjoyment to be had in seeing fingers thrown at a door and then being the cause of death for another character (it’s a death scene that has to be experienced, not spoiled). The love these two men had is now gone to the point of death and it’s a moment that hits the viewer like a gut punch, and only feels that way because of the direction and writing from McDonagh, allowing Farell and Gleeson to play off each other to deepen the relationship between Pádraic and Colm only makes the third act such an emotional devastator.