The Banshees of Inisherin is a very funny movie.
Mind you, this isn’t a zany or wacky or otherwise madcap comedy that has been the norm in the genre for some time, but this is a dark comedy, one in which the punchline is only barely removed from misery and depression.
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, Banshees fits right in with the rest of his works, all of which blend comedy and tragedy expertly. In the midst of the Irish Civil War, two friends find themselves at the pub like any other day. But unlike any other day, one friend (Colm) tells the other (Padraic), “I just don’t like you no more,” and decides to cut Padraic out of his life completely for being too dull. It’s a shocking moment for Padraic, particularly since the announcement came out of nowhere—they weren’t rowing or anything—but it sparks a feud that escalates as the film goes on. It’s a not-so-subtle metaphor for the Irish Civil War as you might’ve guessed, but the bluntness works in Banshees’ favor.
Padraic is initially unwilling to accept the sudden break up and attempts to salvage their friendship. About thirty minutes into the film, Colm gives Padraic an ultimatum so outrageous that, from that moment on, every interaction between the two carries an added weight as the audience waits for the other shoe to drop. It creates an added level of suspense and dread, begging the question “Will Colm actually follow through on his threat?” And although Banshees isn’t a thriller, this is what every good thriller does: Tell the audience the worst case scenario, then build every subsequent moment until that scenario becomes inevitable.
Padraic and Colm are played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, respectively, reuniting after starring in McDonagh’s In Bruges, and both actors turn in career-best performances here. They effortlessly deliver the hilarious dialogue and sell the characters’ humanity and emotions throughout. The same could be said for the supporting cast, which includes Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan, who both provide heart and pathos (and yes, some laughs) in their own unique ways.
Overall, The Banshees of Inisherin is a terrific film, and if you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, it’s definitely worth checking out. I mean, it was nominated for nine Oscars—it must be doing something right!