FILM REVIEW: The Banshees Of Inisherin starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson & Barry Keoghan

By Aline Mahrud


Black comedy is a term which could have been invented to describe the work of writer/director Martin McDonagh and here, perhaps, he has produced something truly unforgettable that goes even further than he has done before.

  • Read on for reasons including why it is the performance of Barry Keoghan that is the standout here

You join us on the fictional Irish isle of the titular Inisherin at the tail end of the Irish Civil war in 1923 as Pádraic Súilleabháin, played beautifully by Colin Farrell, discovers drinking buddy and folk musician Colm Doherty, given an irascible turn by Brendan Gleeson, wants nothing more to do with him.

Pádraic is consoled by his more intelligent and aspirational sister Siobhán, given fire by Kerry Condon, and troubled friend Dominic, who is perhaps even more simple than Pádraic and is vividly brought to life by the always excellent Barry Keoghan (film American Animals).

Pádraic can’t understand Colm’s behaviour and while we won’t divulge more about how this row memorably escalates we will say that it is unlike anything we think we have ever seen on film before.

As we’ve described, writer/director McDonagh is unafraid of seeking inspiration from the darkest places and we’ve written before of mixed feelings about his work including Oscar-winning film Three Billboards and plays A Very, Very, Very Dark Matter, The Lieutenant Of Inishmore and Hangmen.

We’re reminded of Inishmore’s importance of pets here in Inisherin as Pádraic seeks solace in those animals he looks after, alienating his sister with the film’s final act being dominated by an unfortunate incident that befalls his beloved donkey Jenny.

The small village feel of Inishmore is lovingly, humourously and darkly drawn with a postmistress who opens the mail before the people it is intended for such is her thirst for gossip and a policeman who isn’t afraid to wade in with his own brand of justice when he is unhappy about a situation.

The plot is so sleight that some may wonder what Inisherin is actually all about. Someone remarks early on about the Irish Civil War and people losing sight of why there is fighting.

A musician who seemingly cuts off his nose metaphorically to spite his face might also be a Brexit reference we wonder. But McDonagh is far too clever to be quite so overt and this simple tale could mean many things. Or could be just that.

It’s definitely a meditation on men who bury their poor mental health in drink and are too embarrassed to be open with each other. The 1 character who is truly in charge of her own destiny is Siobhán and we like to think McDonagh’s partner, the incredible Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), may have been the source of some inspiration.

McDonagh’s no stranger to the Oscars and while there is plenty of buzz around this we didn’t connect with it enough or find it believable in the way that we did with Three Billboards.

We do think Keoghan’s performance is so strong however that he stands a shot at being shortlisted in our own monstas for the gender-neutral Best Supporting Actor category.

  • Main picture via Facebook courtesy The Banshees Of Inisherin Tickets
  • Have you seen Martin McDonagh plays/films before and what did you think of this 1? Vote for Keoghan to win our Best Supporting Actor monsta.
  • Let us know what you thought in the comments below
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