After mulling it over for a few weeks, I’ve decided that The Banshees of Inisherin is a COVID movie. I don’t mean this literally; it’s set in 1923 Ireland.
But there’s a specific isolation that the film, set on a small island, imbues. Pádraic (Colin Farrell) is confounded when the musician Colm (Brendon Gleeson), without provocation, ends their friendship. Pádraic keeps wanting an explanation. Ultimately, there’s no profound reason for the fissure.
And Pádraic is a nice guy, as he reminds everyone in earshot, including his bright but underemployed sister Siobhán (Kerry Conlon), the troubled young Dominic (Barry Keoghan), an increasingly frustrated Colm, even Pádraic’s pet donkey (Jenny). All of the above actors, except Jenny, were nominated for Oscars, and understandably so.
WTOP film critic Jason Fraley wrote: “A beautifully bizarre tale of wistfulness that actually caused me to laugh out loud from its tragicomic tone. It certainly won’t be for everyone (I can’t quite put my finger on why…), but if you don’t absolutely hate it, you just might love it.”
My wife and I got into a conversation with the people sitting behind us at Albany’s Spectrum Theatre about the greater message in the film. Sometimes you do outgrow another person. And it got me thinking about who, between the former friends, is the wronged one.
I certainly didn’t hate the movie, which is listed as a comedy (comedy?) or a comedy-drama. The priest (David Pearse) in this remote locale WAS funny in his less-than-professional demeanor.
But the “solution” to the main conflict in the film is counterintuitive, let’s say. It’s certainly strange.
Academy Award noms
The Banshees of Inisherin was also nominated for Oscars in the categories of best picture, original score (Carter Burwell), film editing (Mikkel E. G. Nielsen), original screenplay, director, and best picture (all Martin McDonagh, the latter with two others). It looks charming, and the score is enjoyable. It won some earlier awards.
The movie may be, at 114 minutes – not that lengthy by current movie standards – too long for the story that’s being told. Still, it does show its craft. You may enjoy it more than I and possibly far more than my wife did.