The latest film from director Martin McDonagh is now playing in theaters everywhere.
It’s been five years since we last saw Martin McDonagh, who directed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. McDonagh, known for his dark comedy approach in films including Three Billboards along with Seven Psychopaths, and In Bruges, is back with another film in this genre with The Banshees of Inisherin. The difference with Banshees and his previous work is that Banshees may not just be his best film yet, but also his most accessible dark comedy for audiences. It’s hard not to appreciate the acting, script, and beautiful sights in Banshees, all of which are worthy of awards consideration and make it one of the best films of the year.
Taking place in 1923 on an Irish isle, Banshees tells the story of two best friends, Padraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson) living out their days drinking every day and conversing at their homes or at the local pub. However, Colm wakes up one day no longer wanting to be friends with Padraic. Baffled as to why Colm wants to end their friendship abruptly for seemingly no reason, Padraic annoys Colm in an effort to find out why. And as a result, things turn dark the more both men annoy one another.
Banshees is an intimate film in terms of its settings and conversations while featuring just a handful of a characters. We only see a few locations and often revisit the same places throughout the film, but they’re all breathable locations, brimming with life and intrigue. The conversations between characters are often long and very personal but filled with piercing dialogue. McDonagh, who also wrote the script, makes the audience feel like they’re watching a play along the lines of something Shakespeare would have written had the Bard had an even darker sense of humor. Add in outstanding performances from the entire cast and everything fires on all cylinders that captivates (and bugs) the audience, encouraging them hope that the film gets to the bottom of things as it rolls on. It’s not often you sit in a theater anticipating events because you’re so captivated by how dark or humorous the story and its characters are. Are there laugh out loud moments? Sure. Is there a chance you might grimace, too? Possibly. Either way, Banshees challenges its viewers to embrace its bleakness, think about its character’s intentions, and understand the film’s message about friendship long after the credits roll.
At the heart of Banshees is its cast, which features awards-worthy performances from both Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. Both actors have never been better in recent years and try to one-up each other in scenes throughout the film. You won’t find yourself rooting for either actor’s character, but you’ll certainly appreciate theses performances that are among some of the best you’ll see in any film this year. However, these aren’t the only two performances worth praising. Kerry Condon is outstanding as the sister of Padraic, and Barry Keoghan, who has had one of the best young careers in Hollywood over the past few years, is funny as a bumbling local townsperson.
While cold-hearted at its core, Banshees is a warm entry into the current awards race. And in a time where films under awards consideration are longer than ever, one can appreciate this film and its filmmaker for wrapping everything up in under two hours. We shall see how audiences respond as this rolls out nationwide today, since dark comedies can be a tossup. But it’s an offering that shouldn’t go unnoticed, thanks to its performances and a script that will ensure inclusion in all the awards conversation over the next few months.