The Banshees of Inisherin – Review

Cillian Murphy

Image Credit: IMDB

Martin McDonagh’s film is the essence of traditional Irishness transposed into film through imagery, characters, and dialogue. The theme is a well-thought-out tragic comedy balancing some disturbing happenings with typical Irish humour to sum it all up,a perfect theme to encapsulate Irish culture. The dynamic of a handful of characters dispersed on a small island isolated from the civil war in 1923, all trying to find a life’s purpose in a place with such limited options, gives rise to some interesting drama, petty grievances, and brilliant humour.

On a typical afternoon in Inisherin, main character Pádraic Súilleabháin heads down to his best friend Colm Doherty’s house for a routine pint over some conversations in the local pub, only to discover he wants nothing to do with Pádraic anymore. He wants to live the remainder of his life in solitude, focused on developing his repertoire of traditional Irish music and creating a name for himself for years to come, rather than dying on the island with nothing to remember him by. In order to do this, Colm feels the need to completely cut his ties with Pádraic for fear he’s not inspiring enough and too “dull.” Pádraic struggles to comprehend the thought of losing his best friend on an island where friends come sparingly.

The film conveys a number of other interesting characters, all familiar in any rural Irish town or village. the overly nosy local shop owner in the village, whose life mission is to be the messenger for all things gossip and drama, the smug guard who never ceases to disobey the law, and the one who seeks beyond the village in hopes of a better life, who in this case is Pádraic’s sister.

In terms of the film’s cinematography, the visuals of the fictional island, Inisherin were beautifully captured, showcasing the best of Irish landscape. Ben Davis, the film’s cinematographer, managed to perfectly describe the isolation and loneliness of the island through some gloomy, desolate shots.

One negative I had about the film was how abrupt the ending was. In some regard, the film ended with such chaotic and irreversible events that it would seem inappropriate to try and end it positively, yet I felt dumbfounded at such a quick and unexpected ending.

The film is a discussion on not only Irishness but an examination of the decay that results from spending your entire life in the same suffocating environment, which characters Colm and Siobhán try to reverse. Personally, I found a great degree of love for this movie and its homage to my countries’ differences; for anyone seeking a cheeky Irish comedy accompanied by an interesting and dark storyline, I would undoubtedly recommend this Irish blockbuster.

Cillian Murphy