The Five Fingered Friend

The Banshees of Inisherin

Director: Martin McDonagh

Cast: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan, Pat Shortt, Aaron Monaghan

Running Time: 1 hour 54 minutes

Film Rating: 8.5 out of 10

From the acclaimed writer and director of In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Edding, Missouri, Martin McDonagh reunites his In Bruges cast, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in a slightly dark comedy about friendship gone south, isolation and gossip in the brilliantly titled The Banshees of Inisherin.

Set exactly 100 years ago in 1923 in a small desolate island Inisherin off the coast of Ireland at the time just after the Irish War of Independence in 1922, this superbly scripted film focuses on the friendship between two men: Padriag Sulleabhain expertly played by Colin Farrell in a career best performance and the lonesome fiddler Colm Doherty played by Brendan Gleeson (Hampstead, Live by Night, Assassin’s Creed). Colin Farrell won the Best Actor Prize at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival.

On this beautiful but bleak island in this desolate place, Colm wakes up one morning and decides that the slightly simple Padraig is boring and decides not to talk to him anymore, foregoing any more afternoons at the local pub discussing the world’s problems over a pint of Guinness to while away the hours into the early evening. Naturally, Colm’s sudden snubbing of Padraig leaves the poor man devastated, but initially he thinks Colm is playing an April Fool’s Joke on him, but as the days drag on he realizes that Colm is deadly serious. 

Padraig tries to make sense of the situation while discussing things with his brighter sibling sister Siobhan excellently played by Kerry Condon (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). Siobhan has been looking after her brother for years but she yearns for a brighter literary career on the mainland to get away from all the mental and bitter people on Inisherin. Kerry Condon is absolutely superb as the no-nonsense Siobhan who realizes that what she really needs is to escape the island.

Meanwhile the sudden feud between Padriag and Colm escalates unexpectedly providing all the villagers something to gossip about. Padriag finds friendship with a simple young guy Dominic Kearney expertly played in an exceptional performance by rising actor Barry Keoghan (American Animals, The Batman) as a browbeaten tragic man trying to escape his brutal father.

What writer director Martin McDonagh does so expertly is peel back the layers of each of the four main characters and the motivations that drive them from spite to compassion, from a desire for freedom to the ideal of being left alone in artistic contemplation. What absolutely makes this film work although quite bizarre but equally plausible considering how tricky human relationships can be, is the brilliant acting by all four main actors set to haunting Irish music courtesy of Carter Burwell.

The Banshees of Inisherin is a top class film, a dark and brittle comedy about friendships that sour and superstition that becomes reality superbly played by four actors completely in tune with their characters and this fascinating narrative.

The Banshees of Inisherin gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is slow moving in parts but worth the wait in gold and Irish luck. Highly recommended viewing for those that enjoy an inventive character driven story, which is funny, sad and thought provoking.

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