The Banshees of Inisherin

The Banshees of Inisherin ★★★★

I am a good person
I'm an attractive person
I am a talented person
Grant me Grace!

Something is always out of reach with Martin McDonagh. His movies are few and his joke structure is methodical and see-through so it very easily becomes tiresome. Many times has Martin McDonagh attempted to draw a circle that is tight, perfectly serviceable and self-contained, but there's always something, his elbow twitches and the circle ends up with a jagged edge, a bad reflex, a pair of buckled knees. But boy, this egg-like circle is something different. Maybe it's on me, expecting this stranger to make a circle when he wants to make a hat.

It is quite interesting and metacognitively telling that the two big award movies of 2022 - a year that, to me, was cemented into history by Blonde's vision of compassion and wish fulfillment - create a dialogue between "optimistic nihilism and NOH8 wubba lubba dub dub uphold the one true maxim of Just Pure Kindness Please Please Be Kind If It's All You Are" and "kindness is actually two-pronged between the monolithic familial handbook of decorum-politeness and a series of assumptions on what is good for the relationship with the person at hand that are always at risk of veering into self-satisfaction and self-appointment". Pádraic, in his simplicity, might have assumed that speaking to Colm was an unquestionable good for both of them, he might have had the idea of cheering Colm up from his "despair" (the only explanation he can find for a constant rumination on death), never understanding that Colm's ultimatum is perfectly reasonable: it's either rebuking Pádraic's friendliness or dying an anonymous death, a town archetype like Dominic, Mrs. O'Riordan, Mrs. McCormick, Peadar and Siobhán, the big sullen drunk with his idiot friend at the pub. Colm is the only one aware that the predicament of living in Inisherin is a life planned ahead, it's being booked for fossilization, for being a still life in a costumbrist painting of a quaint, desperate little seaside Grover's Corners. Kindness or oblivion. Will you make a choice and save [my] world?
It could even be argued that Colm's threat to Pádraic is the ultimate kindness, as is Leonard's urging to Andrew and Eric in Knock at the Cabin: he is quite literally putting his capability for legacy (his fingers in relation to the violin) in Pádraic's hands, believing Pádraic will be selfless and disciplined enough to let him go.

I began to write this review at a pub, frustrated the way I was with House of Gucci, immediately after leaving the theater. As the movie marinated and l began to tell the story to my parents, it all came alive, and I remembered all the times I was a Pádraic and there was a Colm I loved and could not live without, an appendage I did not want to free, the times I exploded upon contact with the ever-reasonable "I don't love you like I loved you yesterday", and then I bargained, and bargained, and planned, and bargained, and tried to convince them otherwise. Negotiation is disbelief, no?

CARPENTER: Call Shen Te, someone! She's good!
SHUI TA: Certainly. She's ruined.
-- The Good Person of Szechuan,
Bertolt Brecht, 1943

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