The Banshees of Inisherin

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Tragedy and comedy are perfectly paired in this latest jet-black offering from Martin McDonagh. It’s an end-of-friendship breakup movie that swings between the hilarious, the horrifying, and the heartbreaking in magnificent fashion.

It’s 1923, and on the fictional island of Inisherin the sounds of the Irish civil war can be heard across the water, providing suitable background noise for the internecine struggles to come. Every day at 2 pm, dairy farmer Pádraic (Colin Farrell) calls on his best friend, Colm (Brendan Gleeson), and the two head to the pub. They’re a chalk-and-cheese pair: the former a simple soul who can talk for hours about horse poo; the latter “a thinker” who writes music, plays the fiddle and falls prey to bouts of existential despair. Circumstance has made them inseparable.

Today, however, is different. When Pádraic knocks, Colm simply sits in his chair, smoking. Depressed by a sense of time slipping away, and determined to do something creative with whatever years he has left, Colm has decided to cut Pádraic out of his life, ridding himself of the “aimless chatting” of “a limited man”. The Banshees of Inisherin is full of quotable, laugh-out-loud moments that meld odd-couple comedy with toxic bromantic satire. There’s real sadness, too, and visually, cinematographer Ben Davis creates painterly interiors that recall the canvases of Vermeer.

This film was chosen by British film critic Mark Kermode.


Martin McDonagh (b. 1970) is a British-Irish playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director. He is known as one of the most acclaimed modern playwrights whose work has spanned over two decades. He is celebrated for his absurdist black humor. He has received numerous accolades including an Academy Award for his 2004 short film Six Shooter.


2017 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
2012 Seven Psychopaths
2008 In Bruges

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