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The Banshees of Inisherin
Review by Rich Cline | MUST SEE
dir-scr Martin McDonagh
prd Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin, Martin McDonagh
with Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan, Sheila Flitton, David Pearse, Gary Lydon, Pat Shortt, Jon Kenny
release Ire/US 21.Oct.22
22/Ireland Searchlight 1h54
TORONTO FILM FEST
LONDON FILM FEST
Is it streaming?
Focussing on seemingly inconsequential events, this witty Irish drama becomes a startlingly vivid look at human interaction. Writer-director Martin McDonagh has an uncanny ability to sharply capture connections in small communities while echoing larger themes. So this often absurdly funny film brings continually surprising textures and impacts, with a literal civil war taking place in the distance. And the contained story at the centre is almost criminally satisfying.
On Inisherin island in 1923, no one cares that a civil war is raging on the Irish mainland, or who's killing whom. Today, dairy farmer Padraic (Farrell) is confused because his best friend Colm (Gleeson) refuses to talk to him, calling him dull. Padraic's sister Siobhan (Condon) says he's not dull, he's nice. Known as a good guy, he's the only person who's willing to befriend the quirky Dominic (Keoghan), who is horribly mistreated by his policeman father (Lydon). And when Padraic tries to rekindle their bond, Colm reacts with a seriously nasty threat.
"It's an island, word gets around," is the blunt answer when Padraic asks why everyone knows his business. McDonagh creates this village with a beautifully knowing sense of how people need each other and the hierarchies between them. At the centre, Colm wants time to create his music away from Padraic's chatter, ignoring the repercussions of upending the balance between them. Seeing this, sneering crone Mrs McCormick (Flitton) ominously says one person will die this week, or maybe two. And the priest (Pearse) also finds himself caught up in the gossip.
Each character's journey is anchored by Farrell's expert performance as Padraic, which shifts beautifully as he begins to question his nice-guy instincts. Gleeson's Colm is remarkably complex, both thoughtful and thoughtless, intriguingly callous about the chaos he unleashes. Condon is terrific as a woman considering a new job that will challenge her mind for a change. Keoghan brings unusual soulfulness to the clumsily yearning Dominic. And even the tiniest bit player finds wonderful currents of meaning. Although the scene-stealer is Padraic's needy donkey Jenny.
While the civil war metaphor might be a bit on-the-nose, McDonagh keeps it literally in the distance. The knotty, unusually emotional clash between Padraic and Colm is fuelled by both masculine ego and artistic temperament, two things that effect everyone in their vicinity. With the delicious dialog, finely tuned performances and glorious landscapes, this is a clever film that takes us to a distant time and place then reveals something much closer to home. It's also laugh-out-loud hilarious from start to finish.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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