Thursday, January 26, 2023

Review: "THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN" is Entertaining and Artsy, Until It Becomes Tiresome

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 5 of 2023 (No. 1894) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)
Running time:  114 minutes (1 hour, 54 minutes)
MPA – R for language throughout, some violent content and brief graphic nudity
PRODUCERS:  Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, and Martin McDonagh
EDITORS:  Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
COMPOSER:  Carter Burwell


Starring:  Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan, Gary Lydon, Pat Shortt, Sheila Flitton, Bríd Ní Neachtain, Aaron Monaghan, and David Pearce

The Banshees of Inisherin is a 2022 black comedy and drama from writer-director Martin McDonagh.  The film focuses on two longtime friends who come to an impasse when one abruptly ends their friendship, with alarming consequences for both of them.

The Banshees of Inisherin opens in 1923 on the fictional Irish isle of “Inisherin,” near the end of the Irish Civil War (1922-23).  Small dairy milk producer, Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell), and folk musician, Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson), are friends … until just this moment.  Colm abruptly begins ignoring his longtime friend and drinking buddy, Pádraic.  “I just don't like you no more,” Colm tells him.

Colm eventually clarifies, saying that he finds Pádraic to be too “dull” and does not want to waste any more time on him.  Colm says that he would instead like to spend the remainder of his life composing music.  Pádraic is crushed by the loss of Colm's friendship, and even his sister, Siobhán Súilleabháin (Kerry Condon), can't life his spirits.  When Pádraic continues to make attempts to speak to him, Colm gives him a shocking ultimatum – one that could lead to tragic consequences.

A friend of my sister's once said of films like The Banshees of Inisherin, “What's the point?”  What kind of film is The Banshees of Inisherin?  It is a prestige drama, the kind to which some people refer as “Oscar bait.”  The Banshees of Inisherin did recently (as of this writing) receive nine nominations at the 2023 / 95th Academy Awards.  It is well-written by writer-director Martin McDonagh, and there are several nice characters.

But what's the point?  I had had enough of Padraic and Colm's “war” before the film was over.  I would say that I was done with them with about 40 minutes left.  At first, I was willing to go along, and I was intrigued by the mysteries and complexities of this friendship gone wrong.  Then, I found them tiresome, in spite of the good performances by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, especially the former.  Their feud is contrived, and I get that storytelling is basically a contrivance.  It's just not supposed to come across as so obviously contrived as this film's friendship turned sour.

The film has two outstanding supporting performances:  Kerry Condon as Padraic's sister, Siobhan, and Barry Keoghan as a sweet, but simple young man, Dominic.  I wanted to see more of those two actors and get to know their characters better.

One critic unfavorably compared The Banshees of Inisherin to early films of brothers, Joel and Ethan Coen.  That is correct, right down to the fact that Carter Burwell has composed film scores for both the Coens and for Martin McDonagh.  However, The Banshees of Inisherin lacks the wit, style, and purpose of any of the Coens' films.  The Banshees of Inisherin is a very well made film about sadness and despair, seemingly for art's sake.  I would never call it a bad film because it is a prestige drama that has indeed become prestigious.  I like the prestige of The Banshees of Inisherin, but I'm just not willing to call it one of 2022's best films.

7 of 10
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Thursday, January 26, 2023

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