The Banshees of Inisherin
A poster of two men standing by a sea shore with a dog lying between them. The tagline reads: "Everything was fine yesterday."
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMartin McDonagh
Written byMartin McDonagh
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyBen Davis[1]
Edited byMikkel E. G. Nielsen
Music byCarter Burwell
Production
companies
Distributed bySearchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • 5 September 2022 (2022-09-05) (Venice)
  • 21 October 2022 (2022-10-21) (United Kingdom/United States)
Running time
114 minutes[2]
Countries
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$20 million[3]
Box office$49.3 million[4][5]

The Banshees of Inisherin is a 2022 black tragicomedy film directed, written, and co-produced by Martin McDonagh.[6][7][8] Set on a remote, fictional island off the west coast of Ireland in the 1920s,[a] the film stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two lifelong friends who find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them; Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan co-star. It reunites Farrell and Gleeson, who previously worked together on McDonagh's directorial debut, In Bruges (2008).[9][10][11]

The film had its world premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival on 5 September 2022, where Farrell won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor and McDonagh won the Golden Osella for Best Screenplay.[12] It was theatrically released in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States on 21 October 2022 by Searchlight Pictures. The film received widespread critical acclaim, with particular praise towards McDonagh's direction and screenplay, the performances of the cast, and Carter Burwell's score. It has grossed $49 million worldwide against a $20 million budget.

The Banshees of Inisherin received nine nominations at the 95th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Farrell), Best Supporting Actor (Gleeson and Keoghan), Best Supporting Actress (Condon), and Best Original Screenplay.[13][14][15] At the 80th Golden Globe Awards, it achieved three wins from eight nominations: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Actor – Musical or Comedy (Farrell), and Best Screenplay.[16] Additionally, at the 29th Screen Actors Guild Awards, the film received five nominations, alongside Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022), tying the record for the most nominations, previously set by Shakespeare in Love (1998), Chicago (2002) and Doubt (2008).[17] It also won four BAFTA Awards from ten nominations at the 76th British Academy Film Awards: Outstanding British Film, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Keoghan), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Condon), and Best Original Screenplay.[18] The film was also named one of the Top Ten Films of 2022 by the National Board of Review.[19] It has since been cited as among the best films of the 2020s.[20][21]

Plot

At the tail end of the Irish Civil War in the spring of 1923, on the Irish isle of Inisherin (literally "the island of Ireland"),[a][22][23] fiddler Colm Doherty abruptly begins ignoring his lifelong best friend and drinking buddy Pádraic Súilleabháin. Colm has decided that Pádraic, a man respected by the islanders, is too dull for him, and he would rather spend the remainder of his life composing music and doing things for which he will be remembered. Pádraic is devastated and refuses to accept the rejection, while Colm only becomes more resistant to his old friend's attempts to make amends. Colm eventually gives Pádraic an ultimatum: every time Pádraic comes to talk with him, Colm will cut off one of his own fingers.

The local Garda, Peadar, beats his troubled son Dominic severely for drinking his alcohol, and Pádraic and his sister Siobhán take Dominic in for a night. While delivering milk to the market, Pádraic is insulted by Peadar and retaliates by making public the fact that Peadar abuses his son. Peadar punches him to the ground. Having witnessed this, Colm drives Pádraic home; the two do not speak.

Siobhán and Dominic try to defuse the pair's feud, to no avail. Pádraic drunkenly confronts Colm in the pub over his lack of "niceness", also chastising Peadar over the fact that he molests Dominic. Colm remarks that this is the most interesting Pádraic has been and mutters: "I think I like him again now." The next morning, not remembering what he has said, Pádraic attempts to apologise to Colm but the conversation goes badly. Colm responds by cutting off his left index finger and throwing it at Pádraic's door.

Pádraic later sees Colm meeting with a fiddler from the mainland. Jealous, Pádraic tricks the fiddler into returning home by lying about his father being hit by a bread van. As the tensions worsen, local elder Mrs. McCormick warns Pádraic that death will come to the island soon. Meanwhile, Siobhán sympathetically rejects Dominic's romantic advances.

Pádraic tells Dominic about what he did to the fiddler, and Dominic expresses his disappointment in Pádraic's behaviour. Pádraic becomes convinced that this will make him interesting enough for Colm and visits him, starting another confrontation. Colm reveals he has finished composing his song, "The Banshees of Inisherin". Pádraic thinks they have come to a point of reconciliation and invites Colm to the pub, but before leaving, Pádraic mentions he lied to the fiddler to get him off the island. Instead of meeting Pádraic at the pub, Colm cuts off all four of his remaining left fingers and throws them at Padraic's door.

Bored of life on the island and disgusted by the pair's feud, Siobhán moves to the mainland for a job in a library. Pádraic comes home to find his pet donkey Jenny has choked on one of Colm's fingers and died. He tells Colm he will burn his house down the next day at 2:00 p.m., regardless of whether Colm is in it. The next day Pádraic sets fire to Colm's house as promised. Pádraic looks in a window and sees Colm calmly sitting inside. Pádraic leaves, taking Colm's dog Sammy with him. Peadar goes to Pádraic's house, but is led away by Mrs. McCormick, who takes him to Dominic's corpse floating in the nearby lake.

The next morning, Pádraic, with Sammy, finds Colm standing on the beach beside his burnt-out house. Colm apologises for the donkey's death and suggests destroying the house has ended their war. Pádraic informs him that it only would have ended if he had stayed inside the house. Having not heard rifle fire from the mainland recently, Colm wonders if the Civil War is coming to an end, Pádraic replies he is sure the fighting will begin again soon because "some things there's no moving on from and I think that's a good thing". As Pádraic turns to leave, Colm thanks him for looking after Sammy. "Any time," Pádraic responds. Unbeknownst to them, Mrs. McCormick is observing them from a distance by Colm's burned cottage.

Cast

Colin Farrell at the 2022 BFI London Film Festival.
Gleeson at the 2014 British Independent Film Awards.
The film's stars, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson

Production

In February 2020, Martin McDonagh was reported to have set his next directorial effort up with Searchlight Pictures, and it would see him reunite with his In Bruges stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.[9][10][11] In August 2021, Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan were added to the cast.[24][25]

Principal photography began in August 2021 on Inishmore (Inis Mór) before moving to Achill Island, County Mayo, later that month.[26] Locations used on Achill include Cloughmore (JJ Devine's Pub), Corrymore Lake (Mrs. McCormick's cottage), Keem Bay (Colm Doherty's house), Purteen Harbour (O'Riordan's shop), and St. Thomas's Church in Dugort.[27][28][29] Filming wrapped on 23 October 2021.[30]

Costume designer Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh discussed the painstaking lengths she and her team took to make the wardrobe not feel like "a pastiche of the Aran Islands", which included using cloth that was entirely homespun and only using Irish wools, linens and overdyed fabrics. For Pádraic's red jumper, Mhaoldomhnaigh envisioned what his sister Siobhán would have genuinely been motivated to make for him. "I can imagine Siobhán thinking, 'Oh my God, the winter's going to be very cold. I'm going to knit him a jumper,' then making the little collar as a kind of personal touch ... there's a beautiful naiveté to the way he dresses, but it's very tender as well, that idea that she adds this little touch to it. I think it says so much about him and his relationship with Siobhán, and his relationship with where he lives and his Irishness," Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh explained.[31]

For Colm, Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh said: "There had to be something of the poet in the way he dressed, but without it being very ostentatious. So, he wears some corduroy that's nicely dyed and a saffron-colored linen shirt. There's that element of, not vanity, but a knowingness of somebody who has traveled to the outside world at some point and brought back ideas of what a poet or a musician should look like."[31]

Music

Main article: The Banshees of Inisherin (soundtrack)

The original score is composed by Carter Burwell, McDonagh's frequent collaborator. McDonagh did not want Burwell to compose an "Irish-based" score despite the film's setting.[32][33][34] For Pádraic's character, Burwell approached a "child-like" and "Disney character" based score, and also used fiddle-themed compositions for Colm.[35] The film's soundtrack was digitally released by Hollywood Records on 21 October 2022 along with the film.[36]

The film features some traditional pub session scenes with Irish music, in which traditional musicians join Gleeson, who plays the fiddle. These fellow musicians consist of his son James Carty (fiddle), John Carty (fiddle), Conor Connolly (accordion), Oliver Farrelly (accordion), and Ryan Owens (bodhrán). In one pub scene, Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola sings the Irish song "I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day".[citation needed]

It also features an opening scene set to the traditional Bulgarian folk song 'Polegnala e Todora', arranged by Filip Kutev and performed by the Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir.[37][38]

Release

Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Martin McDonagh at the premiere of the film at the 66th BFI London Film Festival

The Banshees of Inisherin had its world premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival on 5 September 2022 where it received a 15-minute standing ovation from the audience, the longest of that year's festival.[39][40] It also screened at the 47th Toronto International Film Festival that same month and was screened as the opening night film of the 31st Philadelphia Film Festival on 19 October 2022.[41] The film was theatrically released on 21 October 2022.[42]

The film was released on rental PVOD and made available to stream on HBO Max on 13 December 2022, and was released on Blu-ray and DVD on 20 December 2022 by 20th Century Home Entertainment and Disney / Buena Vista; bonus features include the featurette "Creating The Banshees of Inisherin" and deleted scenes.[43][44][45][46]

The Banshees of Inisherin was released on Disney+ as part of the Star content hub in selected regions on 14 December 2022 and 21 December 2022 in the United Kingdom and Ireland.[47] The film was also released on Disney+ Hotstar in India on 14 December 2022.[48]

The film returned to cinemas in the United States on 27 January 2023 to celebrate its Academy Award nominations.[49]

Reception

Box office

The Banshees of Inisherin grossed $10.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $38.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $49.3 million.[4][5]

In the film's opening weekend in the U.S. it made $184,454 from four theaters, for a per-venue average of $46,113, making it the second-highest grossing opener for a Fall 2022 platform release, behind Till.[50] The following weekend the film expanded to 58 theaters, making $535,170.[51] The following weekend it expanded to 895 theaters, making $2.1 million and finishing seventh at the box office.[52] These results were attributed to the increasing change in audience behavior towards prestige films in a moviegoing environment altered by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, where moviegoers would refuse to see and support these particular titles in favor of franchise and straight-forward horror films.[53][54] Upon its return to theaters during the weekend of 27 January 2023, following the Academy Award nomination announcements, it rose 383% domestically.[55]

Critical response

The performances of (left to right) Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, and Barry Keoghan received critical acclaim, with all four being nominated for Academy Awards in their respective categories.

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 96% of 360 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The website's consensus reads: "Featuring some of Martin McDonagh's finest work and a pair of outstanding lead performances, The Banshees of Inisherin is a finely crafted feel-bad treat."[56] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 87 out of 100, based on 62 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[57]

Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian gave the film four out of five stars writing that "as a study of male loneliness and swallowed anger it is weirdly compelling and often very funny".[58] Todd McCarthy from Deadline Hollywood wrote that the film was "a simple and diabolical tale of a friendship's end shot through with bristling humor and sudden moments of startling violence". He also praised Ben Davis' cinematography and Carter Burwell's score.[59] David Ehrlich from IndieWire rated it B+, writing that "its constant undercurrent of humor affords the story's most pressing questions an appropriately ridiculous context, one that speaks to the absurdities of all existence". He also called it McDonagh's best work since In Bruges.[60]

Matthew Creith from Screen Rant noted the film's "demonstration of the metaphorical aspects of civil disobedience and internal protest between a set of individuals is remarkably hilarious".[61] The New York Times' Kyle Buchanan wrote: "The film was rapturously received here in Venice, earning a lengthy standing ovation and rave reviews."[62] In a review for Variety, Guy Lodge wrote: "What begins as a doleful, anecdotal narrative becomes something closer to mythic in its rage and resonance: McDonagh has long fixated on the most visceral, vengeful extremes of human behavior, but never has he formed something this sorely heartbroken from that fascination."[63]

David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter called the film "a ruminative ensemble piece that expertly balances the tragicomic with the macabre, inhabiting territory adjacent to McDonagh's stage work yet also sweepingly cinematic".[64] Robbie Collin of The Telegraph awarded it 5/5 stars and described it as "an often shoulder-shudderingly funny film, whose comic dialogue is dazzlingly designed and performed".[65]

Conversely, Mark Feeney, writing for The Boston Globe, gave an unenthusiastic review, describing it as "a short story trying to be a novel" and calling the metaphor for the Irish Civil War "awfully flat-footed".[66] Several critics took issue with the film's portrayal of Ireland: Mark O'Connell from Slate criticized the characters in the film for what he considered their portrayal of "Irishness", and noted that this aspect of the film might pass non-Irish critics, writing that "it's worth noting, though maybe not surprising, that international critics have failed to take issue with its deployment of the hoariest Irish stereotypes".[67] Ed Power of The Telegraph considered that "underneath its Quiet Man curlicues, a much better movie strains for freedom" and was disappointed that McDonagh chose to "shroud his character study in hackneyed Paddy-isms".[68] The Spectator's Joy Porter attacked the "insidious falsehood perpetuated by this film about [her] home country's history of partition and civil war", summarising it as a "beautifully staged but dangerously ahistorical and misleading film".[69] John Waters, however, praised the film in his review for First Things for "[taking] the kitschified, cliched landscape of Ireland and [handing] it back to itself, cleansed". "Most Irish writers and artists simply run away from the tainted iconography, but McDonagh cleans it off and kisses it, redeeming it with a new meaning in which the irony is both present and transcended," he continued.[70]

The film appeared on a number of critics' lists of the best films of 2022, appearing at first place on several.[71][72][73][74][75] In April 2023, it ranked number four on Screen Rant's list of "The 10 Best Movies of the 2020s (So Far) Ranked", calling it "one of the great movies that can break the audience's heart while still making them laugh".[20] In August 2023, it ranked number four on Collider's list of "The 10 Best Drama Movies of the 2020s So Far, Ranked", calling it "one of the greatest 'breakup' movies ever made" and that "in a decade where he has already given some great performances, [Colin] Farrell does his best work ever; Pádraic's idealism fades as he realizes that there's no reward for being nice".[21]

Accolades

Main article: List of accolades received by The Banshees of Inisherin

Notes

  1. ^ a b There is an actual island called Inisheer located off the west coast of Ireland.

References

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