“Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.”

Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Staring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Pat Shortt, Barry Keoghan
Rated: R
Release Date: November 4, 2022

You think your friendships are hard? Have you ever had someone who you loved as a brother suddenly decide that you are no longer to a part of their life? The Banshees Of Inisherin (2023) is the story of two life long friends going through a very tumultuous breakup. Like, absurdly tumultuous.

The TLDR of The Banshees Of Inisherin is that Colm (Brendan Gleeson) has decided that his life has become dull. He decided that he must break-up with his longtime friend Pádraic (Colin Farrell). Because he is a man, he make things complicated by not explaining why at first and then threatening to chop off his fiddle-playing fingers if Pádraic ever talks to him again. These two grown men have a pissing contest which leaks out to affect other members of their lives.

The clearest and most accepted truth about The Banshees Of Inisherin is that the acting is superb. In terms of an ensemble performance, Banshees may be the best of 2022. (Note to self Stanko, good blog idea). Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan are all outstanding. All four of them are nominated for Academy Awards, and there is a degree of argument where all could win in their respective category. The crazy part is that all four of these actors have their first Oscar nominees courtesy of this Ireland based tale of toxic male friendships.

Colin Farrell has the funniest part in Banshees. Some could argue that Barry Keoghan as Dominic is the funniest, but his tragic ending and the accents of his sad life with his father put too much of a damper on his optimism. Farrell as Pádraic is dilly dallying through life and does not like dealing with change. He does not like to be called “Dull”, but he does live a “Dull” life. Knocking on Colm’s door everyday at the same time, living with his sister and needing others around him to feel needed and driven. What Farrell is able to do when duplicating lines from Jonjo Devine (Pat Shortt) in the bar is great. He also has fantastic sad eyes. Even when he is burning down a home, you can sense the depression oozing from his body.

The biggest compliment I can pay to Farrell is that the character he plays is like a really annoying high school student who is learning his place the a friend group. I say this as someone who was the “dull” one of my high school group; I was the one they kept around to make fun of the majority of the time. Never the best at anything, but always game to tag along and appreciate the invite. Pádraic is annoying because he refuses to shift himself from neutral to drive. However, that does not give Colm an excuse to just be an asshole.

Colin Farrell & Brendan Gleeson as Pádraic and Colm.

Banshees marks the third Brendan Gleeson and Martin McDonagh collaboration. Gleeson played Donnelly in McDonagh’s short film Six Shooter (2004) and Ken in In Bruges (2008). This is where I can tell you that it has been essentially 14 years since McDonagh, Farrell and Gleeson have worked together. I am definitely the first one to ever bring that up.

When it comes Gleeson’s performance in Banshees, he is incredibly good at playing an asshole. His character shuts off emotions and operates like a really demented version of AI. What we see in the movie is just a flick of the switch and Colm telling Pádraic to fuck off. Gleeson plays is the necessary straight man that Farrell gets to act opposite of. It is the not as glamorous role, but damn if he doesn’t make the best of his trench coat wearing screen time.

The moments of Gleeson’s performance I remember most are not his lines, but rather his visuals. His bloody hand with his fingers chopped off holding the fiddle in the pub teaching his apprentices is something I am not easily forgetting. The streaking blood on the already shiny wood and the enthusiasm in his face is perplexing to me because I don’t know if he is excited because of the music or because he proved his point regarding the lengths he will go to end his relationship with Pádraic.

Now we get to the real two MVPs of The Banshees Of Inisherin.

Kerry Condon has been in a lot of things, but I have no seen a lot of them. I guess she is the voice of Friday in numerous Marvel productions…but I don’t remember who that character is at all. Outing myself again, I have not seen Better Call Saul where she appeared in 18 episodes. So I am uneducated.

But consider myself a avid new student of her work. Kerry Condon’s chemistry with Colin Farrell is outstanding. I could watch them have sibling bickering about animals inside the house all day long. Also the moment when Siobhán (Kerry Condon) wants to go get a sherry at the pub and she sees Pádraic walking back home will replay in your head as a classic brother/sister barb.

The character of Siobhán is the safety net for Pádraic. When Colm decides to move his foundation away from Pádraic and more toward the arts, Pádraic has to rely on his sister more than he ever has before. She can see that he is struggling, but she is also struggling inside as well. Siobhán is a fan of the arts just like Colm. Siobhán loves books, and it turns out it is not just a passion project but a way out. She gets a job on the mainland in a library. She tells Pádraic that he can join her and it will be easy for him to get work, but he is too stuck in his ways to leave.

Siobhán enjoys the art of literature and she leaves Pádraic literally, but extends a hand for him to have a connection with her. Colm enjoys the art of music and leaves Pádraic metaphorically, but stays on the island. Two different types of abandonment, but one is better than the other.

Colin Farrell and Barry Keoghan

Barry Keoghan is really fucking talented. Banshees is is first Oscar nomination, but I would lay money down that it will not be his last. Over the past two years he has been in a quality A24 film called The Green Knight (2021), he was one of the bright spots in the maligned Marvel flop the Eternals (2021), he announced himself as the new Joker in The Batman (2022) and then he got himself in the Academy Awards conversation with Banshees. That is not a bad stretch for a very young career. Credit to you Keoghan.

Playing the part of Dominic Kearney, Barry Keoghan brings about the most pity from the audience. His story is traumatic and it only grows more sorrowful as the story unfolds. HIs dick a father Peader Kearney (Gary Lydon) is a morbid man who enjoys working executions on the mainland, punching people in the face in town, and abusing his child. Dominic is a young man who likes to drink and talk to much, but when it comes to talking about the things important too him, he can’t muster the courage.

Dominic and Pádraic grows close to one another as Colm begins to fade away, but Pádraic is too stubborn (and dull himself) to realize that he has the possibility of a good thing in front of him. He doesn’t like the fact that Dominic has taken a liking to his sister, and he doesn’t want to be associated with the person who is presumed to be the jester of the town.

It turns out that Dominic and Siobhan are the two most honest people we meet on Inisherin because they are true to themselves, but they are burdened by those that they live with. Dominic wants to go with Siobhan somewhere, anywhere. When she says know, all he has is the potential for a new friendship with her brother, but that doesn’t come through as he would hope either. Dominic’s story is tragic because he can’t escape the burden weighing him down, while Siobhan is able to leave, but at the determent of staying in close contact with her only family.

Fucking sad man.

I struggled to understand the overarching point of The Banshees Of Inisherin. I just didn’t quite get it. What is the point of the movie, besides to tell the world that male relationships are incredibly fickle and men don’t know how to talk about things without being assholes?

Speaking for myself because this is my outlet, I am upset that I didn’t, and still don’t comprehend Banshees. I did not expect to walk away from a movie this well acted, this well shot and this funny…feeling empty. This is a character study movie that shines a magnification glass on two distinct personalities in a truly gorgeous landscape. I understand the appeal of tossing Padraic and Colm underneath a microscope. Get in there with a scalpel and dissect what makes them tick. But I ask Martin McDonagh (who is certainly reading this), to please let me know why he chose them. Why did he write these two fascinating characters and why does their story play out this way?

My process when writing my personal reactions is that I try my best to not ingest anyone else’s thoughts or ideas. I want to start writing right away and get my reaction on the page before I see how my thoughts compare to those who educated or experienced than I.

I have a sinking feeling that after listening to podcasts and reading certain reviews I am going to look like a giant fool for calling The Banshees Of Inisherin good, but not great. As of this day, it is not on my Best Picture nomination list because I can’t point to a moment in the movie where I was utterly transfixed. I hate to say this, but I felt compulsions to pull out my phone and scroll. Now to be fair, I did not. I want to thank McDonagh and his cinematographer Ben Davis for making Banshees look as gorgeous as it is.

Right from the opening areal shot of Inisherin, you know that visually you are in fantastic hands. Not a worry in the world when it comes to candy for the eyes.

The Banshees Of Inisherin is considered one of the front-runners to win Best Picture at the 95th Oscars on March 22nd. It’s biggest competition according to media I follow is The Fablemans (2022) (which I have downloaded and ready to watch within the week) and Everywhere Everything All At Once (2022). Unfortunately for myself I am getting strong Nomadland (2021) vibes from this year’s Best Picture frontrunners. Between Banshees and EEAAO, I have two movies that I appreciate for the skill it took to make them, but my entertainment levels with are shallower than I would like for a potential mega trophy winner.

Nomadland is more similar to Banshees than EEAAO. Both Nomadland and Banshees have performances that elevate the movie to extremely high heights, but both struggle to keep a strangle hold on the audience’s (well I guess my) mind. I am not saying that any of these movies are bad because we know that is not the case. It is just a case of personal preference. This is why movies are subjective. Everyone has a different measuring stick when it comes to how much you weigh entertainment, acting, writing, visual, pace, ect.

For Stanko, Banshees is just out of my reach in terms of fully comprehending on my own. I can accept that and still appreciate Martin McDonagh’s work for how excellent it is. The camera is moving masterfully and the performers have more than a film grasp on the tone of the comedy, drama, and story. They are operating a deeper meta level that I am aspiring to dig too, but even if I can’t get there, I can still appreciate what they are trying to show.

The Banshees Of Inisherin is nominated for nine Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actress (Kerry Condon), Best Supporting Actor (Brendan Gleeson & Barry Keoghan), Best Actor (Colin Farrell), Best Original Score (Carter Burwell), Best Picture, Best Directing (Martin McDonagh), Best Original Screenplay (Martin McDonagh) and Best Film Editing (E.G. Nielsen).

Personally speaking, I have Banshees nominated in five categories: Best Actor (Colin Farrell), Best Supporting Actor (Barry Keoghan), Best Supporting Actress (Kerry Condon), Best Original Screenplay (Martin McDonagh) and Best Cinematography (Ben Davis). In the Stanko awards, I have them taking home the prize in all three acting categories I personally nominated them in. The strongest of the winners is Barry Keoghan.

The Banshees Of Inisherin is streaming on HBO Max.

STANOK RATING: B (3.5/5 Stars)

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