Friendships come and go and sometimes we don’t know a friendship has ended until it’s too late. The phone calls or texts stop. One Christmas, you don’t get a card or a gift. And the next thing you know, time has passed and you haven’t talked to that person. And they haven’t talked to you either. It happens. People change. Opinions, thoughts and beliefs change over time and that has an effect on us.
The Banshees of Inisherin should’ve been an exploration of just that. Instead, it’s really just two hours of two people wondering why their friendship ended. Or more important, why one chose to end the friendship. It’s never really determined. The movie begins in 1923 on the fictional island of Inisherin as the Irish Civil War rages on the mainland. One day, Padraic Suilleabhain (Colin Farrell) goes to meet with his friend, Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson), as they’re going to their daily trips to the pub.
However, Colm doesn’t answer the door. Padraic looks in the window and sees Colm sitting there but he’s not responding. Colm isn’t trying to pretend he’s not home. He’s just ignoring Padraic. The two have been friends most of their lives so Padraic thinks it’s odd but goes back to his house where he lives with his sister, Siobhan (Kerry Condon).
Later when he goes to the pub, he notices Colm is there and he tells Padriac that he considers him too “dull.” Colm is a musician and he wants to spend the rest of his time composing music and doesn’t want to have to deal with Padraic, who becomes more frantic as Colm begins not even speaking with him when they see each other out. They’re on a small island. Everyone knows everyone else’s business. How do you stay away from someone?
It’s pretty obvious that Martin McDonagh is using the friendship between Padraic and Colm as a metaphor for the tensions in Ireland that existed before the Irish Civil War with the War of Independence and after for the rest of the 20th Century during the Troubles. And Farrell and Gleeson were a joy to watch in the dark comedy In Bruges which McDonagh also wrote and directed. This is his first movie since the brilliant Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Unfortunately, it’s not a good follow-up.
McDonagh has a great premise and concept but he can’t stretch it out in a feature movie without throwing in certain cliches and tropes. Padraic has a pet donkey that he calls Jenny that hangs around in the background for an outcome we know is coming. I’m going to be honest. I really don’t like it when filmmakers just throw pets into movies just so they can eventually die. Colm is working on a musical composition he calls “The Banshees of Inisherinm” and I can understand him taking some time to himself to compose it, but it’s still not a good reason.
In the end, nothing is really resolved. One of my friends saw the trailer for this movie and said it looks “unusual.” That’s an understatement. Unusual sometimes works well in movies. That’s not the case here. This movie is unusual and as Colm would say, “dull.” Some people might like it, but I just couldn’t get into it.
What do you think? Please comment.