The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

by Afra Nariman

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

Director: Martin McDonagh

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


“Maybe there are banshees, too. I just don’t think that they scream to portend death anymore. I think they just sit back, amused and observe.”

Beginning to unravel almost like a Kafkaesque nightmare depicting a shattering image of self, Banshees is at its core a humanist interrogation of ego, of identity, of loneliness and community. Banshees is a film that operates between dichotomous spaces. Life on the island is communal, but perpetually lonely. The island itself is vast in its openness, but evidently claustrophobic and isolated from the rest of the world. The titular tensions pondered by the characters are interior ones, grounded in their search for peace (each of whom have different definitions of this), and this is in contrast to the violence seen in the distant exterior, of the Civil War happening just across their waters. 

I think the most fascinating aspect of the film for me is what is first presented within the masterful exchange that occurs as the film is approaching its midpoint, when Pádraic (Colin Farrell) delivers a monologue in defense of ‘kindness,’ in response to Colm’s (Brendan Gleeson) assertion of art as the only lasting element of human capacity, and that kindness does not have the same capability of being remembered.  

“I don’t give a feck about Mozart… I’m Pádraic Suilleabhain. And I’m nice.”

The film then, seems to pose the question of whether or not kindness is as lasting as art — if it is as important as art, in terms of living a meaningful life. To me, the film proposes the perspective that kindness is itself a form of art; that it can be as lasting, but importantly, that it, along with all other traditional arts, is fragile and potentially impermanent. Though, that our limited conception of art cannot belasting without active kindness. Throughout the film, we see Pádraic’s kindness gradually dissipate. This leads to when Pádraic burns Colm’s home; and here we see that all of Colm’s artistic objects and artifacts, all of which he viewed as representing something immortal, burn to ashes along with his home — all a result of the dissipation of kindness and the growing lack of good faith between the two friends. Therefore, art and kindness are not so dissimilar. Not only do both have the potential to be lasting, but are also fragile; kindness is needed for art to be lasting. Essentially, without kindness, there would be nobody left to remember anything, anyways. 

In Banshees, there are so many interesting things happening to such well crafted characters, and everything is communicated flawlessly by all of the film’s lead performances. Banshees is funny, reflective, and deceivingly moving. A near perfect film, heightened in its affect by perfect execution.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

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