Martin McDonagh has made some of the best dark comedies of the past decade, and his newest film, The Banshees of Inisherin, is another bright entry in his filmography. Sharply written, well-acted, and best of all, genuinely funny, this is the low-key movie to take the fall season by storm.
The film follows two best friends who find themselves in an escalating conflict when one of them suddenly decides that they don’t want to be friends with the other anymore. It’s a premise that sounds dumb and probably shouldn’t work, but miraculously, it ends up being one of the best comedies of the year.
Colin Farrell’s leading turn is absolutely fantastic, although it is quite different from anything he has done in the past. He’s playing a character that is almost oafish in nature, but lovable nevertheless, in large part thanks to how undeniably charming Farrell is. He just brings so much love and authenticity to the role, and it’s infectious.
However, even though Farrell turns in a great performance, it is Brendan Gleeson’s turn that steals the show. Gleeson is not known for being a particularly comedic actor, but he shows in this movie that he has the chops it takes to pull it off. And his chemistry with Farrell is astounding — although anyone who loves In Bruges will hardly be surprised by that.
As is the case with the rest of McDonagh’s films, this has a razor-sharp sense of humor that really propels the plot forward. Of course, there’s a dark, deadpan tinge to everything, but it’s not nearly as overt as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It’s the type of upscale yet accessible humor that movies should strive to have.
McDonagh also isn’t exploring any themes that are particularly weighty, instead opting for something much more restrained and personal. The film explores friendship and the connections we make with one another in an unorthodox way, but that allows it to be unexpectedly poignant.
The movie also has much more minimalistic execution than McDonagh’s recent outings. It’s largely a two-hander, with much of the film taking the form of escalating conversations. However, McDonagh does make great use of the beautiful setting of the island of Inisherin, with great cinematography by Ben Davis.
A brilliant script and great performances from Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell push The Banshees of Inisherin to being one of the sharpest comedies of the year. Sometimes, it doesn’t take showiness or ambition to make an impact, and McDonagh’s movie is a perfect example of that.
The Banshees of Inisherin screened at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, which ran September 8-18.