Opinion: “The Banshees of Inisherin” explores the human condition through a dark and twisted sense of humor


“The Banshees of Inisherin” tackles many heavy topics including depression, grief, self-doubt and abuse. Luke Hansen ’23 said, “The theme of grief resonated with me because of how well and accurately it was displayed in this movie.” Graphic by: Hugh Murphy

Miles Newman and Hugh Murphy

Martin McDonagh’s magnum opus glistens from the performances of its two stars

“The Banshees of Inisherin” was released on Oct. 21, 2022. The film has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and more. The film was a relative success with a budget of $20 million and a box office total of $41.1 million. The film had a standard theater run before becoming available to stream on HBO Max. 

Liam Clemow ‘23 said, “I think it deserves the Oscar nominations for Best Acting, but I don’t think it should win Best Picture.”

Cooper Conrad ‘23 said, “I think the movie is absolutely deserving of the Oscar praise and I think it should win Best Picture.”

Martin McDonagh is an acclaimed director, being nominated for seven Oscars and won one for his films such as “In Bruges” and “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri.” “The Banshees of Inisherin” stars Colin Firth and Brendan Gleeson, two regulars in McDonaghs’ body of work. 

“The Banshees of Inisherin,” directed by Martin McDonagh, has been nominated for nine Oscars including all of the “Big Five” awards. Graphic by: Hugh Murphy

The film takes place towards the end of the Irish Civil War in 1923 on the fictional island of Inisherin off the west coast of Ireland. Firth stars as Pádraic Súilleabháin, and Gleeson plays Colm Doherty, with both actors nominated for Oscars. Pádraic is a simple farmer, while Colm is a folk musician. The film begins with Colm ignoring Pádraic when he asks if they are going to the pub, beginning the conflict of the entire film. Colm and Pádraic have been friends for decades, and one day Colm decides he no longer wants to be Pádraic’s friend. 

The rest of the film shows Pádraic wrestling with this revelation, dealing with feelings of confusion, betrayal and a new sense of self-doubt. The film also focuses on Colm, exploring the reasoning behind his decision. Colm has come to the realization that he is getting old and his time is running out. He feels that his relationship with Pádraic consists of mundane banter that gets in the way of his artistic expression of music. Pádraic’s reaction to this information becomes a central theme, with Pádraic questioning his self-worth and how others perceive him. The film uses this dynamic to raise questions about the nature of friendship and how different individuals play their part in one, as well as how relationships end and the effects this has on both parties.

The acting in the film is superb. Farrell as Pádraic and Gleeson as Colm both capture the very essence of their characters in their performances. The dynamic between them and the effect that the conflict has on them is evident in the small intricacies of their expression and delivery. Barry Keoghan as Dominic Kearney, a troubled young man and a friend of Pádraic’s, is also fantastic. Keoghan’s performance creates a love-hate relationship with the audience and demands the attention of the viewer on screen. Kerry Condon playing Pádraic’s sister, Siobhán Súilleabháin, gives a stellar performance and conveys the complicated relationship she has with her brother. 

Conrad said, “Farrell and Gleeson were really good but I thought Barry Keoghan was also impressive.”

Luke Hansen ‘23 said, “Both Farrell and Gleeson did an amazing job as usual, but I was also very impressed by the supporting cast.”

Symbolism is littered throughout the film, with the two friends and their feud symbolizing the two factions and conflict of the Irish Civil War and its absurdity. There is also heavy symbolism with the animals in the film, as the relationship between Colm and his dog and Pádraic and his miniature donkey represent a pure and loving bond, contrasted with the prideful and selfish dynamic between Colm and Pádraic. Religion plays a major role in the film, with Colm’s interactions with the priest in the confession box providing thematic insight into man’s relationship with the divine and the distortion of religion as society has progressed. 

Conrad said, “The allegory for the Irish Civil War was profound and I appreciated the dark comedy aspect of the film.”

“The Banshees of Inisherin” is a moving film pushing the audience to question the nature of the relationships in their own lives and look at those around them with a new perspective. It is one of the best films of the year, and we recommend it to anyone looking for a wonderfully profound piece of cinematic art.