A film coming out of all the major festivals this year with rave reviews has been Martin McDonagh’s latest film, The Banshees of Inisherin (2022). Being described as dark, absurd, and riotously funny, I knew that I absolutely had to go out and see this film. The festival crowd was not wrong: The Banshees of Inisherin combines a ridiculous, yet simple premise with one of the most poignantly hilarious screenplays and gorgeous cinematography I’ve ever had the pleasure to see. The Banshees of Inisherin is an absolute triumph and is currently my second favorite film of the year.
The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) follows a very basic premise: what happens when your best friend randomly decides they want nothing to do with you. Set on the small island of Inisherin, during the Irish Civil War, The Banshees of Inisherin follows Pádraic (played by Colin Farrell) as he discovers that his best mate, Colm (played by Brendan Gleeson), has randomly decided that he is too dull and wants nothing to do with him. A quick witted and poignant story of this broken friendship then unravels as after Pádraic’s refusal to listen to Colm’s request for silence, Colm tells him that each time they speak, he will cut off a finger with his shears until Pádraic finally gets the message.
The very premise of this film—a friend randomly saying “I don’t like you anymore”—is not one that you would think could carry an entire film. However, Martin McDonagh has delivered a masterclass on how to make some incredibly simple, incredibly entertaining. The screenplay and direction of this film is top tier and keeps you, as an audience member, completely enthralled throughout the film. From the quick witted dialogue (the cadence of the dialogue reminded me heavily of the phenomenal Canadian show Letterkenny) to the outlandish, yet awesome twist and turns of the story, the script for this film is the obvious frontrunner for Best Original Screenplay at the the Oscars this year. Even with McDonagh’s incredible script, this movie’s heartbeat comes from his direction. The cinematography and sets are jaw-droppingly beautiful, and McDonagh’s sense of comedic timing and pacing is perfectly displayed through his actors and the incredible editing team.
Other than the award worthy script and direction, The Banshees of Inisherin is also a fantastic collage of acting talent. The leads, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, both deliver the performances of their lifetime. The movie’s heart beats with Farrell’s leading performance as both he and Gleeson share phenomenal chemistry on screen. Both their comedic and dramatic chops are on full display to incredible affect. They are also surrounded by fantastic supporting performances as well. Gary Lydon as the abusive cop on the island, Sheila Flitton as the elderly oracle, David Pearse as the island’s priest, and Bríd Ní Neachtain as the nosy store owner, all round out an incredible cast of hilariously simple, yet complex characters that breathe life into the beautifully scenic Inisherin. Perhaps the biggest standouts among the supporting cast are Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan. Both Condon and Keoghan demand your attention every time they grace the screen, and they both deliver incredible performances that I think immediately put them in serious contention for awards season. In particular, Barry Keoghan’s character and his portrayal is the narrative and comedic standout to me—I have not stopped thinking about him ever since I saw this film.
The Banshees of Inisherin is going to be one of 2022’s most beloved films from critics and audiences alike. From the flawless script to the beautiful direction to the phenomenal performances, this film has created a work of art that is the epitome of peak cinema. Unfortunately, The Banshees of Inisherin is not a big enough film to make to a very wide release, so many people are going to have to wait to watch this one when it hits video on demand or when theaters do their Oscar season marathon in February and March. That said, if this film is playing at a theater within an hour of you, it is one thousand percent worth the trip to that theater. Just behind Everything, Everywhere, All at Once (2022) for me, this film is easily going to end up within my top 5 of 2022.
The Banshees of Inisherin is rated R for language throughout, some violent content and brief graphic nudity.