The Banshees of Inisherin

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

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I used to make regular trips to Ireland. My first impression was, “It really is green,” as I took in the grassy hills patchworked with stone fences, festooned with small whitewashed cottages. It was like visual magic.

Maybe that is why I like movies set in the Emerald Isle.

One of my favorites is “Hear My Song,” a film laced with magical realism. Another is “Local Hero.” Also, “The Matchmaker.” And, of course, “The Quiet Man.”

Maybe that’s why I couldn’t wait to see “The Banshees of Inisherin,” an Irish comedy starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.

Directed by Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), this is the story of a friendship between folk musician Colm Doherty and his drinking buddy Pádraic Súilleabháin. Or more precisely, this is the story about the end of their friendship.

Colm wishes to spend the rest of his life composing music and having stimulating conversations. He finds Pádraic too dull.

The plot centers on Pádraic’s feeble attempts to restore the lost friendship. Even his spinster sister and a local ruffian get involved, but with little success. The battle between the former friends escalates, with severed fingers, a dead donkey, and a burning house.

Friendship is a serious business in this black comedy.

Colin Farrell (the hapless Pádraic) won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival for this performance. A talented actor (his roles ranging from a country music star in “Crazy Hearts” to a hitman in “In Bruges” to The Penguin in “The Batman”), I’ve followed his career ever since I learned he was having an affair with an actress I know. He’s been quite the ladies’ man. He has reportedly had flings with Britney Spears, Elizabeth Taylor, Angelina Jolie, and Demi Moore, among others. And my friend.

Brendan Gleeson (the stubborn Colm) has been the recipient of three IFTA Awards, two British Independent Film Awards, and a Primetime Emmy. Best known as Alastor Moody in the “Harry Potter” blockbusters, he’s appeared in films ranging from “Braveheart” to “Michael Collins,” “Cold Mountain” to “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” Also, he co-starred with Colin Farrell in Martin McDonagh’s acclaimed “In Bruges.”

Watching “The Banshees of Inisherin” makes me want to go back to Ireland. Although the film is set on the fictional Irish isle of Inisherin, I’d be happy to make do with my old haunts – Limerick, Dingle, and Connemara. While in Connemara, my wife and I had the best fish and chips in the whole wide world.

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