Break-up films are ten-a-penny but the interesting twist here is that the couple going through it are long time friends, Pádraic and Colm. The fallout after this revelation is measured and crafted exceptionally well. Martin McDonagh’s practiced dialogue harnessed in tandem with the delivery and presence of Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell makes The Banshees of Inisherin both a delight and a heartfelt journey.
Pádraic (Farrell) goes about his normal business tending his beasts and visiting the local pub, knocking for his friend Colm on the way. But today Colm is distant and unresponsive to Pádraic’s knocking and calling. Unbeknown to Pádraic, Colm has decided that this friendship is no longer a thing that he has time for. Cue much anguish and searching from Pádraic for reasons or solutions to this situation.
McDonagh excels when his central characters are in conflict. Either actually in opposition or just when they have differing views and this allows him to rattle off such amazing interactions full of emotion but when in the hands of actors of the calibre on show here, are also delivered with perfect timing, eliciting laughs and shocks almost in equal measure.
Although Farrell and Gleeson are the headline actors here, there are some superb performances that enhance this film further: Kerry Condon plays Pádraic’s sister Siobhan and she brings a good deal of sensibility to everything but also can deliver a cutting barb with a seconds notice. Almost in opposition to her is Barry Keoghan’s Dominic, the local village idiot. While he might be limited in his processing power, he more than makes up for it in excess, awkward energy and an inability to realise the full predicament.
It is inevitable that there be much reflection and thought provided into life, the decisions we make and the things we prioritise but the method of delivering this message here is exquisite. There are so many moments of hilarity throughout this film that you could be forgiven for thinking it a comedy, but this is definitely on the side of dark humour. Events do build up until something has to give and when it eventually does it is a shocking affair but also underpinned by the ridiculousness of it all. The balance in this film really is something else.