Martin McDonagh’s cinema is not the easiest to approach. If we obviously find themes common to all his films, in particular concerning our fears and our uneasiness within this world, each of them is particularly different. Therefore, we warn you that The Banshees of Inisherin is certainly not the film to start with to learn about the director’s universe. We also find Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, who form a formidable duo that we learned to discover in In Brugge (Kisses from Bruges in French). Without repeating their roles, we can quickly see that they take on many of their characteristics. Brendan is a man more sensitive to art and highly anxious about his relationships. As for Colin, simpler, he is easily satisfied with simple things like drinking a good beer. The film is definitely less rock’n’roll, but devilishly more violent. A violence that interferes even in the dialogues in which we find this verve specific to the filmmaker, frank and direct, without being malicious. The rhythm also breaks with everything we can see in the cinema at the moment, and if it is not for our greatest displeasure at the beginning, it becomes it rather quickly over the course of the events.
Regardless of everything, The Banshees of Inisherin is definitely the filmmaker’s most complicated film to cash in on. The atmosphere is gloomy, sad, the lands of Ireland seem perpetually gray. The spectator is visually cold to see a landscape that is nevertheless splendid, so devoid of animation and color. As the characters spend most of their time enjoying the moment, having drinks at the bar or learning to play music, the story unceasingly evolves amidst a dying, lifeless slump. and without joy. If you weren’t depressed before entering the room, you will certainly be when you leave.
In its entirety, the story sucks. The characters spend their time scuttling themselves. The more their destiny eludes them, the more effort they make to force it in the wrong direction. It’s enough to bang your head on a pole as the absurd flirts with the contrariety. We lose patience to see the protagonists constantly pushing the limits of the point of no return. The film is of a rare violence, whether visual or oral, as the characters spend their time destroying each other with a certain compassion. It is all the more auditory as the accent of the characters is outrageously exaggerated, so much so that one would think of Irish ch’tis. This is where the film tortures our minds. Emotionally, we spend our entire session watching psychopaths destroy themselves with compassion. It is an abyssal sadness.
On this point, we must recognize that this is a real performance. Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell offer a breathtaking performance of a rarely equaled level of acting. This is also what allows us to hold the whole session in front of such a destabilizing cinematographic object. Their duo was already caressing perfection in In Bruggethey only confirm the talent they have shown. With Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan, the cast is flawless. Kerry Condon is the only one to bring a little light and sanity to this soulless narrative. As if the viewer’s psychological abandonment was the director’s desired objective.
However, within Martin McDonagh’s career, The Banshees of Inisherin can no longer be explored in quite the same way. Particularly mirrored with In Brugge. And we’re not just saying that because it features an iconic duo of actors. Beyond many visual or writing similarities, the two films respond to each other more deeply. When we dwell on the personality of the two protagonists, we realize the effect they produce on each other. It is by putting the themes addressed in the films that we grasp a double reading in the film. Analyzing human pain, injustice, the toxicity of relationships and psychological deviance seems to be a real research work for the filmmaker. A subject common to all his films whose thoughts, suppositions and conclusions are in perpetual rediscovery. By adopting this perspective, making films seems to be, for Martin McDonagh, a means of purging himself of the malaise that he considers humanity to be. And The Banshees of Inisherin sounds like a therapeutic sequel to this In Brugge who was already developing a stormy friendship and strong values necessary in human beings.
The mythological conception of a banshee is represented by this old woman who wanders aimlessly and announces misfortunes to whoever agrees to listen to her. The paranormal dimension of the film adds to this ambient madness a troubled and heavy atmosphere. The loneliness of the protagonists between them and within the environment in which they evolve, tends to confront them with their own mentality. As if all of this was never really real and was just a representation of their psyche among a larger group. By writing so much around characters who literally end up spiraling into a form of psychological extremism, The Banshees of Inisherin is welcomed with more perspective. The story is nonetheless extremely confusing and difficult to accept, it reflects a more subtle and intriguing whole within the career of the director. In Brugge is not a necessity to see before The Banshees of Inisherin. Watching it, however, makes it possible to understand this new film differently and to obtain some keys to understanding McDonagh’s perhaps more intimate project behind this kind of emotionally destructive will towards the viewer.