TIFF- Movie Review: “The Banshees of Inisherin” (Searchlight Pictures)

Colin Farrell gives an Oscar worthy performance in director Martin McDonagh’s beautiful tale of friendship gone awry on a small island off the coast of Ireland.

It’s the time of the Irish civil war, and on the island of Inisherin, Padraic (Colin Farrell) wakes up one morning, only to realize that his best friend Colm (Brendan Gleeson) doesn’t want to be his pal anymore. Shocked, Padraic seeks out advice from his sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon) who urges him to leave Colm alone.

Unable to let go of the friendship, especially since Colm hasn’t told him why, Padraic with the help of Dominic (Barry Keoghan) endeavors to find out the reason why Colm has parted ways with him. The more Padraic can’t let go, the more extreme measures Colm is willing to take to end the friendship.

Fans of In Bruges will clamor to see this latest collaboration between the director and stars, but what is truly incredible is the magnificent performance from Colin Farrell. I have always enjoyed Farrell from his early action pics to the quieter films like The Lobster. The Banshees of Inisherin is a once in a lifetime role, that Farrell brings to life on screen with perfection.

The entire movie rests on Farrell’s shoulders, and he delivers a knockout performance as Padraic. The innocence and naivety that Farrell brings to Padraic is incredible. The audience will genuinely connect with him from the first moment on screen. This movie is very funny, and consistently funny thanks to Farrell’s incredible timing with the rest of the cast.

Brendan Gleeson and Kerry Condon are brilliant in their roles, and while Gleeson spends much of the film not explaining his actions, the subtlety of his performance and nuances to his facial expressions lets the audience in on the mindset of Colm.

Barry Keoghan’s Dominic is the final part to this wonderful ensemble. At first Dominic seems like he is the joke of the island. However, there is much intelligence and wisdom to this character that would be lost without Keoghan’s incredible talent.

Martin McDonagh has not only assembled his talented leading men again, but he has created a film that surpasses the wit and wonder of their first pairing, In Bruges.

The Banshees of Inisherin looks to be a simple story about the end of a friendship. The truth is that McDonagh dives deep into a variety of topics through this simple story. The idea that Colm decides one day that a friendship with Padraic is no longer a good idea for his soul, is a very deep existential theme to explore. Are we able to cut the parts of our life out that has no benefit to our contentment? Colm sure seems to think that he can. At the same point, Colm realizes he is getting older, and is desperate to find some long-lasting meaning to his life that people will remember. Going to the pub with Padraic every day is not something that Colm wants to be remembered for.

Padraic is struggling with the idea that perhaps, he is not the nice person that he believed he was. For as long as he could remember, Padraic and Colm always went to the pub for a drink at 2, one day that changes, and his inability to reconcile the end of this friendship is a human instinct. This abrupt end to his friendship forces Padraic to learn a lot about himself.

McDonagh has weaved such a tight narrative that it doesn’t require a lot of screen time for the actors to show how the civil war is impacting them. From observing the number of times gunfire from the mainland can be heard or discussing the current events at the pub, the island may be spared the bloodshed, but not the scaring of the violence.

The Banshees of Inisherin should be on the top ten list of critics this year, and will certainly deliver an Oscar nomination, and hopefully a win for Colin Farrell.