Fourteen years after his Kisses from Bruges, Martin McDonagh recalled his favorite duo for a tragicomedy against a backdrop of Irish folklore. In theaters since the end of December, The Banshees of Inisherin is the perfect film to start the year.
Since his second film Seven Psychopaths, the British filmmaker of Irish origin had abandoned satirical narrative for some time to focus on more dramatic fables. A successful bet since his last film, Three Billboards: The Revenge Billboards left in 2017 with several prestigious awards, including best screenplay and best dramatic film at the Golden Globes. Five years later, the filmmaker returns to what he does best: tragicomedy. Finding Collin Farell and Brendan Gleeson in the main roles, the filmmaker had fun juxtaposing genres and offering us a fable more enjoyable than ever.
We take the same…
It is in an Irish region that the filmmaker has chosen to unfold his plot, on the island of Achill more precisely. Located off the west coast, this dizzying land is full of possibilities for the filmmaker. Indeed, although we very often see the characters move from one place to another, the story takes place mainly between three places: the pub and the houses of the two main characters. In the manner of Kisses from Bruges, a triad is formed. It’s not behind closed doors but nevertheless the movements are limited to these three places perfectly selected to constitute the atmosphere of the film.
If we add to that a remarkable work on the characters, the result becomes as satisfying as the director’s first film. In The Banshees of Inisherin, Colin Farell plays a role that suits him perfectly, that of a man named Padraic, a little stupid and naive but sincere and touching. In front of him, a Brendan Gleeson camping the character of Colm, always as cold, rough and imperceptible but with a tender heart. The duo faces each other from the beginning to the end of the film and evolves at the same time. The two actors are also perfectly supported by Kerry Condon in the role of Siobhan, Padraic’s sister and by Barry Keoghan in that of a young man who is a little slow but dreamy. In short, the casting is rather well found for a film rather well scripted.
… and we start again!
The success of this film comes mainly from a scenario that seems simple but finely developed. It starts with a simple, almost banal problem, that of a complicated relationship between two friends, to gradually lead to an unexpected drama. Colm no longer wishes to speak to Padraic, his lifelong partner. The latter refuses to let his friend sulk at him and won’t let go. The simple problem gradually becomes a huge bloody struggle between two characters who don’t actually want to hurt each other. The mood wavers little by little from comedy to drama and finally to tragedy. The rhythm is, meanwhile, perfectly controlled, letting the tension rise little by little without knowing where it will lead and without thinking that the outcome could ultimately be so terrible.
Because the drama was not so visible in the first place. You might think it was a bad joke at first, but nothing is a joke in the words of his characters. Everything is finally so grotesque, unexpected but full of meaning. Since in addition to satire and tragedy, the filmmaker adds a final ingredient: the lesson of life. Beneath his air of an embittered old man who does not want to know anything, Colm is above all afraid of not leaving a trace after his death. The clock is ticking, its hours are counted and finally the atmosphere is no longer party but work in order to leave something to future generations. An attitude that allows you to completely change your vision of the character and of all the protagonists more generally, who are each attached to something that allows them to kill time on a lifeless island.