Martin McDonagh reunites with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson for this dark comedy/drama set in 1923 on the fictional Irish island of Inisherin. The last time these three names appeared together was in the 2008 film, the exceptional and unforgettable In Bruges. McDonagh, as writer and director, pours his heart and soul into this project, which has an unusual story about the sudden breakup of a long-time friendship between two buddies in the sleepy island town. The plot on paper probably sounds unimaginatively boring. McDonagh, on the other hand, can transform the most boring town with the most boring people living the most boring lives into something completely engaging and engrossing. He is well-supported by a brilliant assemble cast with Colin and Brendan leading the pack.
Colin Farrell shines as the slightly dimwitted Padraic, who was dumped by his best friend Colm (played by Brendan Gleeson) for being too boring and intellectually empty! Colm suddenly feels the need to spend time away from his friend and devote himself to his passions of writing music and playing the violin. Colin is so good that we can feel every emotion his character is feeling from this rejection. He expertly shows us how his character arc shifts from nice to not-so-nice as the story progresses. The story takes place in 1923, during the Irish Civil War. While the war is never shown, its presence is felt through the disturbing sounds of bombs and gunfire in the distance. On the surface, Banshees of Inisherin appears to be a tragic story about a broken friendship that turns ugly. Looking deeper, it becomes a metaphor for the Irish War, which divided and embittered Irish society for generations.
As a motion picture, The Banshees of Inisherin comes across like a masterpiece of art and storytelling. It has great performances, a breathtaking unassuming Irish landscape, and non-gimmickry directing with its own distinct style. Its story may not be a popular film subject today, but its message is universal. Its dialogue is laced with humour, which can be dark at times, but it also leads to a tragic conclusion that is far from funny. This should and will rank among the top ten films of the year for most serious moviegoers.