October 6, 2022

VIFF 2022 | Irish Civil War – Feuding Over 'The Banshees of Inisherin'

"How's the despair?"
Colin Farrell Brendan Gleeson Martin McDonagh | The Banshees of Inisherin | VIFF 2022
Vancouver International Film Festival
VIFF 2022—British-Irish playwright/filmmaker Martin McDonagh returns to his native Ireland for the black comedy The Banshees of Inisherin. Shot on the island of Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay just off the west coast of Ireland, this is a bleak (even violent) yet hilarious romp about friendship gone sour.

Starring McDonagh's In Bruges duo, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, as feuding former best friends in 1923 Ireland near the end of the Irish Civil War on the tiny fictional island of Inisherin, where everyone knows each other's business, just off the Irish west coast, it's a deceptively simple premise commenting on the twentieth-century's series of European conflict.

When the two friends fall out, it becomes the entire island's problem as there are repercussions and only so many people to even be friends with in the first place. Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan co-star as Farrell's sister and fool of a drinking buddy who both add colour to war or words. Full of escalation, the folksy film feels very much like a small play that's constantly raising the initially minor stakes through its sharp dialogue and stirring performances.

There are some clearly overt themes about Irish conflict in the background of The Banshees of Inisherin's fictional tale of warring townsfolk and close friends gone awry over basically nothing. Its sharp humour and constant jokes make the sort of microcosm of civil war all the more biting. McDonagh turns a cold war between neighbours into an all-out tragicomedy with sad and violent consequences.

The Banshees of Inisherin screened at the 2022 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of the Special Presentations series at The Centre for Performing Arts.

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