The Banshees of Inisherin

COMIC DRAMA, 1hr 54min

STARRING: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan

Let me in: from left, Gleeson and Farrell

In April 1923, the Irish Civil War looks to be winding down, and so with a crushing thump is the seemingly watertight friendship between villagers Pádraic Súilleabháin (Farrell) and Colm Doherty (Gleeson). Diversions are in short supply on their storybook island of Inisherin, and to Pádraic, Colm is a lifeline, as much for the balm of habit as the blessing of companionship. So when Colm brusquely informs him on an otherwise unremarkable day that “I just don’t like you no more,” Pádraic is as dumbfounded as a puppy deprived of a bone.


Colm explains on day two that he feels the pressure of time passing and has resolved to fill it with compositions on his violin, as opposed to tedious conversations at the pub with “a limited man.” He isn’t blowing smoke, either, for Colm is a bloody-minded turncoat who feels free not only to kick his friend in the teeth, but to make good on his grotesque threat of cutting off his fiddle fingers if Pádraic refuses to leave him be. Pádraic, who is gentle and kind (miniature pet donkey alert!) and, okay, maybe a mite dull as well, is infected with a grief that metastasises into rage.


From these elemental bones, writer-director Martin McDonagh, who also worked with Farrell and Gleeson on 2005’s brilliantly anarchic In Bruges, filigrees hilarity with pathos shadowed by a sense of impending calamity and blasted out of the park by a cast that knows its intimate way around the microverse of village life (Better Call Saul ’s Condon is Pádraic’s simpatico sister, Siobhan; Dunkirk ’s Keoghan a fellow wounded soul). As its lynchpin, Farrell works a sliding scale whose catharsis leaves the erstwhile friends united by a perverse resolve. “Some things there’s no moving on from,” Pádraic observes in a moment of truce, as much about the ongoing Civil War as the lonely, losing one he has been waging. “And I think that’s a good thing.”