“Banshees” is one of the year’s most memorable films

The Banshees of Inisherin (Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon) – Martin McDonagh has directed four feature films and one short. He won the Oscar for Live Action Short Film for Six Shooter in 2004 while his Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was nominated for 2017’s Best Picture and won two Oscars from seven nominations. His first feature film, In Bruges, earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. This is one talented filmmaker.

Three of his four features have starred Colin Farrell: Seven Psychopaths, In Bruges and The Banshees of Inisherin. Everyone I know who watched In Bruges loves it in a reverential way because it’s funny, entertainingly violent, and quirky. It tells the story of a pair of mostly bumbling hitmen. Farrell’s sidekick in In Bruges is played by fellow Irishman Brendan Gleeson, the wonderful character actor twenty years his senior. At its heart, In Bruges is a buddy film with a fascinating setting and a ridiculously twisted plot.

The Banshees of Inisherin, written and directed by McDonagh, reunites Farrell and Gleeson but in a setting far from Bruges. The fictional island of Inisherin, located off the west coast of Ireland, is both idyllic and isolated. Set in 1923, the film centers on Pádraic (Farrell), who ambles through life living with his spinster sister (Kerry Condon in a masterfully understated performance), taking care of their animals, and regularly visiting the one pub on the island. As the film opens, Pádraic is trying to hook up with his longtime best friend, Colm (Gleeson). For whatever reason, Colm is not interested in joining his friend.

When confronted about it at the pub, Colm coldly declares that he no longer likes Pádraic, finds him boring, and doesn’t want to waste any of the rest of his life in a friendship with him.  Colm wants to play his violin and create a musical legacy before he dies, and he doesn’t have time for his “dull” friend.  Confused, bewildered, and incredulous, Pádraic wants an explanation for the sudden rejection. Colm keeps pushing him away while Pádraic won’t take “stay away from me” for an answer. The break-up of the bromance turns bizarre and barbaric. Beware the banshee!

This wonderful character study won Best Actor at the Golden Globes. And the film won Best Picture in a musical or comedy. This film is neither. It is a totally engrossing, heart-breaking, stomach-churning evaporation of friendship and love with touches of dark humor and irony. It’s one of those films you will be talking about for weeks. It is streaming now on HBO Max.

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