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Friendship Goes Awry in ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ (Review)

Martin McDonagh’s ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ takes place on a fictional island off the coast of Ireland in 1923, with the Irish Civil War exploding off in the distance.

The residents of Inisherin lead simple lives. There isn’t much to do aside from tend to the land and go to church or the pub.

Things turn sour when Colm (Brendan Gleeson) decides that he no longer wishes to associate with longtime friend, Pádraic (Colin Farrell). Simply put, Colm wants to focus his time on composing music and enjoying a little peace and quiet.

Being dismissed so quickly and resolutely does not sit well with Pádraic, who can not seem to leave well enough alone. He continues to pester Colm and fight the decision to terminate their friendship Pádraic until Colm gives him a disturbing ultimatum.

Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon superbly round out the supporting cast in what is one of my very favorite films of the year.

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson star in ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ (Searchlight Pictures)

The Verdict

This is the first film of Martin McDonagh’s that I can say I truly loved. Despite the accolades he has received in the past for ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,’ and ‘In Bruges,’ there has always been something about his penchant for crass dialogue that has rubbed me the wrong way. (I’m not talking about the copious swearing, but rather racist, sexist, and homophobic conversations).

Perhaps because of the time period, those tropes are not prevalent here. Instead there is genuine heart, introspection, and a lot of tall pints.

This is the third film that Ben Davis has shot for McDonagh and it looks absolutely stunning. The widescreen vistas of the Irish landscapes are worth watching on their own. Combine them with a remarkably talented cast and Carter Burwell’s lovingly gentle score and you have a nearly note-perfect feature.

Darkly comic and occasionally bittersweet, it’s uniquely brilliant with wickedly sharp performances all around.

A+

How to Watch

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ begins streaming on HBO Max on December 13. It also will be available to buy or rent digitally on the same day. A physical blu-ray and dvd release follows on December 20.

Looking for more great films to watch? Check out our December streaming preview!

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