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The Banshees of Inisherin

Searchlight Pictures, 2022

Director/Writer:

Martin McDonagh

Reading Time:

5 minutes

The Banshees of InisherinMe and My Friends (NLTYAPWAOSPTMC5Z)
00:00 / 05:19

📷 : Used with permission, Snollygoster Productions (hello@snollygoster.productions)

The Banshees of Inisherin

Barley:

Image of movie's tea brew

Movies and TV shows with a lot of dialog

Honeybush:

Image of movie's tea brew

Nonfamily dramas with strong adult and/or socioeconomic themes

Chris Chaisson

2022-12-28

Few things devastate the psyche quite like the sudden end of a friendship. As romantic relationships come and go, many people take solace in their platonic friends and the bonds they share through the other changes in their lives. If you’re like me, you’ve mostly experienced the end of friendships in a gradual manner. Less check-ins, less hang-outs, new priorities; all leading to a slightly less painful and finite parting of ways. The hurt is multiplied when one member of the friendship abruptly cuts communication off, as opposed to a mutual, tacit agreement. Human beings often need closure (and in some cases, a replacement friend). The Banshees of Inisherin being centered around the ending of a friendship sounds like a thin premise until you reflect on your own relationships and realize how deep and complex such a situation could actually be.


Our friends in question are Colm (Brendan Gleeson, Calvary) and Pádraic (Colin Ferrell, The Lobster), two drinking buddies living on a sparsely populated island off the coast of Ireland. A talented musician, Colm asks Pádraic on a whim to leave him be so that he can indulge in his composing and fiddle practice. He gets increasingly blunt as Pádraic presses, admitting that he finds him a dull waste of time. As Colm stares his own mortality in the face, he wishes to accomplish something in his music endeavors that will make him remembered beyond his passing. Pádraic, light on hobbies other than drinking, feels the sting of rejection even harder since he feels he has no one else to turn to. His strongest relationships other than with Colm are with his sister, the more practical Siobhán (Kerry Condon, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), and his pet donkey. His small circle leaves him little recourse for his damaged pride.


The Banshees of Inisherin serves as a perfect example of a film where the setting takes on a character role (i.e. Sex and the City). The fact that Pádraic and Colm live on a small island heightens the importance of their friendship. Rather than a metropolitan setting where one can meet and connect with strangers anywhere they go, Inisherin forces our two lead characters to interact. There are not many new places to go or people to meet, so their relationships with and opinions of the other island dwellers are largely set in stone. Moreover, the island setting gives them an audience for their issues. Most of their arguments play out at the local pub, where everyone already knows them, and typical island gossip lets everyone else in on their discord. The presence of the other islanders intensifies the rejection that Pádraic feels from Colm, and his bruised ego (along with a little liquid courage) leads him to act out even more. 


Siobhán, Padraic’s sister, serves as the innocent bystander-turned-voice of reason in their sophomoric feud. As Pádraic is forced to evaluate his behavior and personality, Siobhán becomes a reluctant soundboard, doing her best to reassure him that he is a decent man. Similarly, she assures Colm that while he finds Pádraic dull, this is no reason to end their friendship, since frankly, all men are dull. She frequently voices the audience’s thoughts, along with Padraic’s drunken acquaintance, Dominic (Barry Keoghan, The Killing of a Sacred Deer).


At the crux of Colm and Padraic’s issues is their shared insecurity. Colm wants to achieve greatness with his creative endeavors, stemming from age-related anxiety. Pádraic, having been plucked from his daily routine and forced to re-examine his own character, wonders whether he is a good person and friend. While it may seem petty, this insecurity is the film’s biggest draw, as it is rather relatable. Some people want to be remembered beyond their time and receive effusive posthumous praise. Others simply want to exist and foster their relationships while they’re here. It can be strongly argued that neither one is better than the other, nor can one exist without the other. Nonetheless, when the two mindsets clash, feelings can easily be hurt.


The Banshees of Inisherin brings to mind the early 2000s drama Finding Forrester. While the settings and characters are different, the bond between the two and the differing aspirations that threaten it mirror each other. Jamal and Forrester have a shared love of writing, but Forrester is a recluse while Jamal is a star basketball player accused of plagiarism. Though their friendship persists throughout the film, Forrester simply wants to stay out of the spotlight while Jamal deals with both wanted and unwanted attention for his talents. Despite their shared love of drinking and small talk, Colm and Pádraic have two different life goals. As Colm acknowledges his own, he views Pádraic as an impediment rather than a confidant. The Banshees of Inisherin could make you reflect on your own friendships and which side of the ledge you land on.

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