A new movie worth seeing

January 10, 2023 • 11:00 am

UPDATE from GCM (12.i.2023): Last night, the film won the Golden Globe award for best “comedy or musical” and Colin Farrell won for best “comedy” actor. Do not be misled: it is not a comedy, despite some touches of humor. As Jerry wrote below, it is not a happy film. I don’t know what the award category nominators were thinking. To cement the insanity of the Globes’ categories, Austin Butler won for best dramatic actor for singing the role of Elvis Presley in the musical biopic, Elvis! If both Farrell and Butler deserved awards, the categories should have been reversed. (On the quality of Banshees, I concur with Jerry: Farrell was great, and the film is a “See it!”)

I found this film because it was highly rated on all the “Best Movies of 2022” list, and then saw that it received a 97% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes (though only a 76% audience rating). And so I watched it, and am very glad I did. Here’s the promotional poster:

. . and the trailer:

I’m not going to give away any spoilers except to say that you need to see this movie.  The veneer itself is appealing, for it takes you back to the year 1923, during the Irish Civil War, and to a tiny and fictional island Inisherin lying close to the mainland. Life on the island is hard, and since people are social animals they form a network of mutual support, as well as antagonism.  The search for connection—similar to the theme of The Last Picture Show, my favorite American movie, which takes place in an isolated Texas town—is to me the movie’s theme. And, ironically, it’s the rupture of that network, in the form of a broken friendship between the two protagonists (Colin Farrell as Pádraic Súilleabháin and Brendan Gleeson as Colm Doherty) that propels the movie.

The acting is terrific, and I have to add here the performance of Kerry Condon, who plays Pádraic’s sister Siobhán. I suspect the movie will produce several Oscar nominations, as it’s already been nominated for more Golden Globe awards than any other movie this year—eight of them.

This is neither a happy movie nor an action film, but if you like movies about human relationships and their fragility, go see “The Banshees of Inisherin”. There’s also an adorable miniature donkey, which you can see in the trailer above, but I’ll say no more.

30 thoughts on “A new movie worth seeing

  1. Curious fact; Brendan Gleason not only played the fiddle himself, he composed the piece which gives the film its name.

  2. Saw it at TIFF in September and raved about it here! Right up there with Donagh’s In Bruges and Three Billboards.

  3. If you liked Banshees (and I did, too), you’d absolutely love the 2014 film that director Martin McDonagh’s director brother, John, made with Brendan Gleeson, Calvary (and a thanks to the fellow commenter former known as BJ for turning me on to that one):

      1. Indeed. There are several fans of In Bruges among the regular commenters here. Banshees reunited Gleeson and Farrell with In Bruges director Martin McDonagh.

        As much as I liked Banshees, I liked In Bruges even better.

        1. I’ve heard director Martin McDonagh describe In Bruges as a film in which Gleeson’s character falls in love with Farrell’s character (not in a romantic, but in a human way), whereas Banshees is a film in which Gleeson’s character falls out of love with Farrell’s character.

        2. Effin’ Bruges😹😹 I saw Calvary a few years ago, and remember liking it. Looking forward to seeing Banshees again, but with subtitles. A few quips I’m sure I missed on the big screen.

    1. I miss you and BJ’s movie banter. I got a lot of good suggestions reading your comments. Though I don’t remember any mention of Calvary. I’ll check it out. I like anything with Brendan Gleeson, even horror movies like 28 Days

      It’s weird, the other day I had a dream that I was reading WEIT and saw a comment from Paul Topping, and I dream-thought: “Oh cool, Paul’s back.”

  4. Filmed in Achill on the west coast of Ireland; where I went almost every summer as child. Absolutely stunning place. Very much looking forward to watching this.

  5. I did my best to like this film. I really, really tried because that’s what the reviews suggested. Unfortunately I couldn’t get away with it at all. Yes the performances were excellent but somehow the tone was just too depressing.

      1. Definitely a Theater of the Absurd tragicomic movie, in the vein of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros and Samuel Beckett’s plays. As the Irish Beckett writes: “Nothing is funnier than unhappiness … it’s the most comical thing in the world”. These plays were written after and about the horrors of World War II that could only be comprehended as absurd and wrestling about what that meant for those who live on. The description of Beckett’s plays fits this movie perfectly: Beckett’s focus was on the failure of man to overcome “absurdity” – or the repetition of life even though the end result will be the same no matter what and everything is essentially pointless.

        It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like this movie, then you should like the plays of Sartre, Ionesco, and Samuel Beckett.

      1. You’ve got a point and I can think of loads of depressing films I do like, so perhaps I need to analyse more. In any event I’m going to watch it through again because I seem to be the only person who didn’t like it!

  6. The genius of director Martin Mcdonagh, like that of other genius directors, is being able to show depressing or disturbing events without destroying the rest of the film. What is also impressive about this film is the stark frugality of dialogue, which though sparse manages to be cohesive and carry the whole film forward. There are far more disturbing scenes in In Bruges, which I anticipated and which made me stay away from the film for years. I finally watched it and though those scenes (very brief and not bloody) were very disturbing, they did not impair the rest of the film. One of McDonagh’s greatest achievements is being able to depict conflicts and anger without
    preaching or passing judgement on a character. This was eminently true in In Bruges and in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a terrific film that should have won Best Film. I suspect those who didnt like it were those who expected some kind of moral lesson or heroic conclusion. Todd Field’s films (In the Bedroom; Little Children; and today Tar) as well stand back from events and don’t try to force any moral tale on us. He and McDonagh are arguably the best film directors working today….assuming Denys Arcand has retired (his Jesus of Montreal is in my opinion one of the three greatest films ever made).

    1. I agree on the quality of Todd Field’s films, though he certainly has had an odd career, directing just three films in two decades (a slender output that recalls the early Terrence Malick).

      Field was something of a protégé of Stanley Kubrick’s. Indeed, Field appeared as an actor in Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut, in the small but pivotal role of Nick Nightingale, the med-school-dropout-cum-jazz-pianist who discloses the existence of, and password for, the aristocrats’ masquerade orgy to Tom Cruise’s character.

  7. Saw the movie. Agree with you. Provoked much philosophical discussion among my group of octogenarian friends about what is “wasted” time during one’s life.

  8. Colin and Brandon were in another brilliant film (“In Bruges”), and this looks just as good, though probably with a bit more humor.

        1. Oh, I’ll grant you that one, Dermot, and Banshees had other moments of high humor. But on the whole, IMO, In Bruges was funnier.

  9. My husband and I saw it at home and loved it — maybe because we’re old. Great acting and beautiful scenery.

  10. Great dialog, acting, and scenery, and plenty of humor, but the gory self harm didn’t make any sense to me, and made the film very unpleasant to watch, and ultimately, a movie I didn’t care to think about afterwards. I post this in case anyone else didn’t like it and thinks they might be the only one. 😁

  11. This one has been sitting unwatched on my hard drive for a couple of weeks. On the recommendations here, I will move it near the top of the queue.

    We have been enjoying “The Glory”, an intense Korean revenge drama that builds up slowly over eight episodes, and “Station Eleven”, a post apocalyptic series. We really liked that one. I kept expecting it to get stupid, like late stage “Walking Dead”, but it never happened. It was complex and interesting.

    “White Noise” was different. Hard to put into a specific genre. Adam Driver plays a character who teaches advanced Nazism at a small college, Don Cheadle is a colleague who teaches Elvis studies. At one point, they lecture simultaneously, and it sort of becomes a rap battle. The ending is a musical number that is sort of delightful.

  12. Ok, we just watched it. Wonderfully filmed and acted with great dialog. Also incredibly bleak and depressing.

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