Film: “The Banshees of Inisherin” starring Colin Farrell
The setting for “The Banshees of Inisherin” is Inisherin, a small island off the coast of Ireland, in 1922. That’s toward the end of the Irish War of Independence. But it may as well as have been fought in Antarctica for all its impact on the island’s residents.
Chief among the oblivious is Padraic (Colin Farrell), the island milkman who is Mr. Ordinary Nice Guy. Some might call him dull or a “gom” in the local parlance. Padraic lives with his sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon) in the modest home they grew up in, and cares for a menagerie of animals (including Jenny the Donkey) that he allows inside the house too often. Every so often he enjoys a pint with his best mate Colm (Brendan Gleeson) at the local pub.
One day, though, Colm tells him he wants to end the friendship. “I don’t like you any more,” he tells Padraic. See, Colm is a serious fiddler and finds that associating with dull people like the milkman are holding back his creativity.
Padraic, hurt and bewildered, won’t accept this rejection. The fiddler threatens dire consequences should he persist on talking to him. News of this “row” gets around on the tiny island, and the feud between the two escalates, quickly and nastily.
With all due respect, those who claim this film is dull have got it wrong. Admittedly it is a bit slow and quiet, but those who are patient will discover a marvelous jewel of a movie written and directed by none other than the great Broadway playwright Martin McDonough.
The ensemble offers a master class in acting: as Padraic, Colin Farrell reveals a vulnerability that belies the actor’s playboy reputation. Gleeson and Condon are easily his match, as is Barry Keoghan who plays the slow-witted Dominic. Dominic’s father (the sinister Gary Lydon) is a perfect as the sadistic policeman who beats the stuffing out of his son on a regular basis.
The film is spot on at capturing the insularity of villagers who don’t have much else to worry about than settling their petty grievances. It’s also a pleasure to watch—thanks to the great cinematography by Ben Davis—and a delight to listen to, thanks to the lovely scoring by Carter Burrell. Pleased to give two thumbs up (and a few fingers, no spoilers please!) to another Oscar-nominated film that just happens to feature a donkey. I can’t wait to see what spirit animal Hollywood is cooking up for next year. (PS Shame it came up empty at the Oscars. But so did Elvis, another AugFave. Pfft.)