The Spirits of the Island

Review by Marianna Cappi

Monday 5 September 2022

Ireland, 1923. Best friends Pádraic and Colm have been meeting forever at two in the afternoon for a few pints in the pub and the usual chat. One day, however, Colm does not open the door of his house to his friend, and later, forced to provide an explanation, he claims that he has had enough of him and does not want to spend a minute more in his company. Devastated and unable to accept it, Pa’draic seeks the help of his sister and then the parish priest to talk to Colm, but the latter not only does not retract, but threatens the worst if Pa’draic does not leave him alone. While civil war rages on the continent, on the fictional island of Inisherin, which has always considered itself safe from conflict, the estrangement of two close friends equally triggers a series of consequences and an escalation of atrocities.

Martin McDonagh reunites the couple starring in his debut film (In Bruges) and blocks it in a rural and isolated outpost, off the west coast of Ireland (the real locations are the islands of Inishmore and Achill), together with a handful of other inhabitants maddened by loneliness, influenced by legends, terrified from a life that often translates into daily waiting for death.

With the same pointed pen and the same black humor he had tried to handle in Three Posters in Ebbing, Missourithe British director writes a parable on the dialogue between the deaf in which comedy and tragedy chase and overlap, in a microcosm that is the mirror and effect of the history of Ireland.

Who sins more, among these grassy paths controlled by a statue of the Madonna and an old woman with a pipe, where young people are against war and soap, there are no women or culture, and loneliness is so prevalent that even the animals try to enter the house in search of company? It is more obtuse Pádraic, who behaves like a dumped, jealous and wounded boyfriend, or Colm Sonny Larry, who fears he doesn’t have much time to waste and wakes up one day full of artistic ambitions and tired of useless chatter, even that. of his only friend? What is certain is that both radically keep their word, even when that word is bloody stupid.

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, anti-heroic reversals by Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera, are the sensational protagonists of this reflection on the compromises of friendship and the diabolical temptations of individualism, drowned in humor and invested with charm and freedom from the setting and from the choice of the era. A wooden sailboat, which the winds of talent and the spirits of inspiration make fly fast and light into the storm.

The Spirits of the Island