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  • Writer's picturePopEntertainment

The Banshees of Inisheran (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jan 5, 2023


Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan, Pat Shortt, Jon Kenny, Bríd Ní Neachtain, Lasairfhíona, Gary Lydon, Aaron Monaghan, Sheila Flitton and David Pearse.

Screenplay by Martin McDonagh.

Directed by Martin McDonagh.

Distributed by Searchlight Pictures. 114 minutes. Rated R.

Screened at the 2022 Philadelphia Film Festival.

A few years after breaking out internationally with his multi-Oscar-winning film Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri, Irish playwright-turned-filmmaker Martin McDonagh has returned to his roots. Not only has he come back to his homeland of Ireland for his latest fable, McDonagh also reteamed with the two leads of his first film In Bruges, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. (That film was made in Belgium, but it was about Irish characters visiting.)

As often in his films, the story is deceptively simple on the surface, but then takes on often shocking twists. It is a tale of a small two life-long friends in a small Irish island village in 1923 (Inisheran is a fictional town loosely based on Inishmore) who reach loggerheads when Colm (Gleeson) suddenly decides he no longer wants to be friends with Pádraic (Farrell).

This ignites a feud between the two and sets in motion waves of circumstances which not only throw their lives into havoc, but also cause mayhem for the whole town.

If you take the story at face value, then undoubtedly what the two of them do – particularly Colm – makes little or no sense. However, The Banshees of Inisheran is not supposed to be taken literally. It is an allegory of the Irish Civil War which was raging at the same time. War does not make sense – it makes men do stupid, self-destructive things.

Particularly in closed quarters – a pub, a small village, even an island nation – the fallout of these self-destructive things is going to be intense, on all that live there, not just the combatants.

Colm’s self-harm is physically damaging, but it is also symbolic, as is Pádraic’s stubbornness and inability to let well enough alone.

Which perhaps may make The Banshees of Inisheran sound a little bit pretentious and difficult to unpack. However, that could not be farther from the truth. It’s just that the film works on multiple levels.

Even if you were to take the story completely at face value, it is a smart, funny, dark, entertaining, exasperating experience. However, there is more to it than appears at the surface, and a final explosion is always potentially just a moment away.

Much like most friendships. And most wars.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2022 All rights reserved. Posted: October 24, 2022.

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