Film Review: The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

Martin McDonagh’s ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ is one of the rarest of films today: one in which you find yourself thinking I’ve never seen a film quite like this before. Yes I’ve seen films that deal with the Irish soul, wit, and/ or history, others with laugh out loud dark humour, others still with dark nihilistic meditations on the human condition. But I have never seen a film that plays all those thematic notes together to create a emotional and visual symphony that left me stunned. In a single scene of brilliant dialogue and impeccable acting you could be belly laughing to only frames later find yourself staring into the darkest reaches of the psyche and feeling empty. This film felt like a dark gut punch that left me deeply shaken. Much like the play ‘Waiting for Godot’ the first act’s absurdist dark humour, slowly gives way to contemplations on boredom, loneliness, time, companionship, civil war and ultimately the nihilist void, in the second and third acts. The film boasts one of the best casts in years, with wall to wall wickedly clever and poignant performances. This film could be looking at easily 4 acting nominations, with potentially some wins, a feat that is extremely rare in film history. The sweepingly beautiful but oppressively sparse landscape of Inisherin becomes a metaphorical mirror to the touching but gapingly empty characters as they move towards a crescendo of despair. Reminding me of dark folk tales, the larger metaphors and meanings of the film are revealed slowly and keenly until they are tragically inescapable. Amongst all the anguish, melancholy and dry Irish wit are haunting questions that are left unanswered. The film is at once a truly original film, a hilarious comedy and one of the darkest films I’ve seen in years. I left the film feeling psychologically naked, our collective humanity read so astutely in a tale without redemption. One of the best films of the year. 10/10

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