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Review: ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ breaks new ground for director Martin McDonagh

As if Colin Farrell wasn’t already having a stellar year with his roles in “The Batman,” “After Yang” and “Thirteen Lives,” Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin” features Farrell’s best performance in years. It is one that will almost guarantee him a nomination for the Best Actor Oscar a few months from now.

“The Banshees of Inisherin” follows the story of lifelong friends Padraic and Colm, played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, living on the Irish island of Inisherin in the 1920s. Their friendship abruptly comes to an end, and the film follows the aftermath and consequences as Padraic seeks to reconcile with Colm.

The film absolutely revels in a level of dry, dark and awkward humor that is all familiar territory for McDonaugh’s other films, such as “In Bruges” and “Seven Psychopaths.” What sets “The Banshees of Inisherin” apart from his other films is the way that instead of simply having its characters in bitter and cynical states, the film takes a step back and examines the bitterness at its core. It also tackles the reasons behind someone isolating themselves and becoming the bitter, cynical character that we’ve come to expect from McDonagh’s films.

Regardless of the main plot being as simple as one person not wanting to be friends with someone, we see a large amount of depth and focus put into both of the leads. Their fears of isolation and being forgotten as well as the things that make them cheerful and happy are explored. The entire film is coated with a large layer of dry and dark comedy that brings it all together.

The film works equally as an intelligent dissection of friendship and isolation and as an absurdist comedy where characters make insane, unthinkable and hilarious decisions to prove their point. On both ends, the film is able to successfully increase the tension of both the drama and the comedy, making for one of the most memorable final thirds of a film I’ve seen in a long while.

The comedy is strong enough that you can enjoy the film without even bothering to think about the deeper themes of friendship and isolation or even the loose parallel that the film sets up between the leads and the two sides of the Irish Civil War. These pieces are definitely present and add to the enjoyment of the film, but the film’s comedy chops are so strong that I can in good faith recommend it to nearly anyone who is a fan of dry and absurdly dark humor.

“The Banshees of Inisherin” overall is definitely a film that you’ll want to keep on your radar, as it is in good contention to be one of the best comedies of the year, and will almost certainly be nominated for a cavalcade of Academy Awards in the coming months.

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