The Big Picture: ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’


Graphic created in Canva by Dominique Williams and Gavin S. Hudson. Movie poster courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

Gavin Hudson

I had originally planned to go see “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” this week, but a broken projector helped me stumble upon one of my favorite movies of the year. 

“The Banshees of Inisherin” is written and directed by Martin McDonagh and features an all Irish cast led by Colin Ferrell and Brendan Gleeson. 

The film tells the story of Pádraic, played by  Ferrell, and Colm, Gleeson’s character, two friends who’ve spent years blabbering about meaningless drivel until Colm comes to the realization that his years are limited and his mark on the world has yet to be made. 

Pádraic just can’t seem to move on from his broken friendship and struggles to fathom his life without his friend.

Colm ignores Pádraic’s invitation to the pub in “The Banshees of Inisherin.” Pádraic never goes to the pub without him. (Picture courtesy of Searchlight Pictures via IMDB).

In the fallout of their friendship, when coming to terms with his new reality, he experiences the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The way the film highlights these stages in Pádraic’s life is what makes this movie stand out so much for me. 

Ferrell gives a genuinely expressive performance while his character experiences emotional turmoil. He conveys an authentic range of feelings, making his character more relatable. 

In life, friends come in and out of our lives as time progresses. It’s a factor of the human experience that, eventually, when friends go, it often feels like a piece of you is missing. McDonagh explores this emotional rollercoaster with a vivid understanding of the scenario to the point where I questioned who broke this guy’s heart.

The locations and set design – if it is a set and not just a real town – depicts a beautiful setting and efficiently tethers this film. The movie takes place primarily on an Irish island called “Inisherin” in 1923 amidst a civil conflict on the mainland.

Pádraic walks his donkey, Jenny, through the hills of Inisherin. In Colm’s absence, Jenny becomes Pádraic’s best friend.  Picture courtesy of Searchlight Pictures via IMDB.


The pub in the film was built by the film’s crew on a cliff — further proof of their dedication to bringing this story to life. Even the animals in this movie have an endearing character to them and it’s illustrated perfectly that they play such a vital role in the character’s lives. 

The setting hints at a juxtaposition between small town drama and the massive conflict of war happening not far from the island’s shores. It seems to be a footnote in the minds of the characters and even culminates in a scene where a dishonorable policeman says he’s excited to see the execution of soldiers in war, adding that he doesn’t care which side they were on. 

With a focus on the small world of this relatively unknown group of people in history, it still confronts a human notion of wanting to be remembered. Colm believes music is one of the only ways to leave a memorable mark on the world, even if that means losing Pádraic.

Negatives of the film are few and far between, though the ambient soundtrack starts to feel repetitive as the film goes on. The director wanted the scenes to speak for themselves and very clearly wanted music to influence the scenes as little as possible. 

When the music is being played by the characters on screen, the scenes feel lively and the culture bleeds through the screen. The atmosphere created is fun to see; for example, when conflict breaks out, the music stops in an exaggerated fashion. 

Writer and director Martin McDonagh walks with Colin Ferrell on the set of “The Banshees of Inisherin.” The movie was shot on the islands of Inis Mór off the coast of Ireland. (Picture courtesy of Searchlight Pictures via IMDB).


Through many bleak moments, this movie is really funny. The graphic nature of certain scenes doesn’t detract from the comedic timing of certain moments that are nailed at just the right time. 

The heavy accents of most of the characters accentuate the comedy really well in a way I’ve only seen done as well by Guy Ritchie. Certain dialogue-heavy scenes remind me of Ritchie’s “Snatch,” where a lot of the focus of the jokes lands well due to the cadence of the characters telling them. 

Incorrect grammar, a lot of swear words and even more alcohol culminate in some of the best moments I’ve seen in a film this year. If you’re in the mood for a bleakly comedic character study, I give you “The Banshees of Inisherin.” 

In theaters now and worth the price of admission. I give Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin” a strong 8/10. It’s certainly deserving of more attention and acclaim.