The Banshees of Inisherin

The Banshees of Inisherin ★★★★

Every afternoon — for as long as anyone on the tiny, fictional Irish isle of Inisherin can remember — two friends have sat together at the only pub in a town for a few pints of Guinness. This shared ritual might be the only thing these men have in common.

Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell), the younger of the two, is a sweet and simple type who doesn’t ask for much from life, and gives it exactly that in return. If he died five yards from where he was born, that would suit him just fine. Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson) is cut from a more intense cloth. An amateur but obsessive fiddler who’s in his 60s and convinced that he has exactly 12 years left to live, Colm is prone to a certain resentment over the smallness of his existence.

One idyllic day in 1923, as the local birds chirp loud enough for the people of Inisherin to ignore the bombs exploding across the water and a world away, Colm suddenly announces that he won’t be friends with Pádraic anymore. “You didn’t do anything,” the older man insists with the calm demeanor of a doctor offering a diagnosis and its treatment in the same breath. “I just don’t like you no more.”

And so, not six minutes into Martin McDonagh’s deliciously mordant “The Banshees of Inisherin,” the seeds of a new enmity are sown — not a metaphor for the Irish Civil War so much as an absurd kind of microcosm for it. The result is (by far) the writer-director’s best film since his similarly haunted “In Bruges,” which also found the same lead actors trading sublime jabs of existential despair with all the bruised grace of a heavyweight bout. It’s a stirring tragicomedy in which one man’s sympathetic but uncompromising lust for freedom sparks an escalating series of reprisals that can only end in a stalemate or self-immolation. Or both. Or worse.

~this review continues on IndieWire~

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