The Banshees of Inisherin released to theaters in fall to resounding critical acclaim and recently was added to HBO Max’s streaming platform which is where most viewers will get to catch it before awards season gears up. The film, starring Colin Farrell (The Batman) and Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter franchise), is leading the Golden Globes for most nominations with a total of 8 including Best Picture, Musical or Comedy and a nomination in each relevant acting category, director, screenplay and score.
Wait…did that say it was nominated in the comedy category? That’s right, much to the shock of casual viewers The Banshees of Inisherin (which had almost no mainstream marketing) is a dark comedy in the style of the cult classic In Bruges by the same director and writer, Martin McDonagh.
Supposedly funny or not, how does it rate? The Conservative Critics asks: Is it entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value? Is it liberal propaganda?
The Conservative Critic Meter Check: The Banshees of Inisherin
Overall rating: Surprising
Going in, not many viewers knew what to expect starting The Banshees of Inisherin. The marketing has been nearly exclusively limited to a fairly serious looking film poster shared and a slew of awards accolades. The two leads, Farrell and Gleeson, are both actors with a broad resume featuring both comedies and dramas but fairly heavily loaded on the latter. So when viewers put on Banshees they might be a little thrown when it’s not a historical drama about changing Ireland but instead a quirky, dark, and laugh-out-loud heartbreak.
For fans of In Bruges (which if you haven’t seen, do yourself a favor), Banshees really hits the spot. Writer/Director McDonagh has had a lot of success with films such as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri including multiple Academy Awards and Best Picture at the Golden Globes. But none, until Banshees, have replicated his particular and truly unique perspective featured in In Bruges. It’s a treat to have the style return to the screen.
Overall, Banshees is funny and complicated, it’s well crafted and executed and it even features some family values which will be comfortable in a conservative home.
Was it entertaining: Complex and darkly funny
Banshees sense of humor is what can only be described as “increasingly chaotic flabberghast.” Despite the raw simplicity of the plot, the film pulls viewers in as it escalates, growing darker and darker and unveiling a powerful story of the pain of rejection, the confusing nature of personal growth, and the consequences of the withdrawal of affection which is so relatable to all viewers. It never loses its tongue and cheek but on a few occasions will turn completely cold facing head on the heartbreak instead of masking it with laughter. It’s complicated. It’s funny. It’s something special.
Being that the plot is simple and the scope small, it isn’t going to be a laugh riot good time for every single viewer. But if you like a little mental tease and a quirky film with an independent spirit, its plenty of fun.
Does it have artistic/intellectual value?
Rating: Worthy of the buzz
Banshees is extremely well done. Farrell and Gleeson have perfect chemistry and it’s a treat to see them in their element on the fields of beautiful Ireland. The supporting cast also really shone, in particular Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) as the simple, suffering Dominic Kearney was funny and endearing in one of the more painfully strong performances in the film.
The visual elements of Banshees were some of its strongest fare. McDonagh made “the company we keep” a major theme of the film by seating characters alongside their matches whether it was Farrell’s Padraic with a small Donkey or Gleeson’s Colm sharing a beer with a man with a micropenis.
The dialogue is plucky, absurd and frantic in the best way and it’s clear McDonagh took extreme care in the crafting of each word and the full weight of his story.
Overall, it’s no surprise that Banshees is an awards circuit favorite and it’s very likely to take home, at least, Best Original Screenplay when the time comes.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: Basically no agenda but maybe slightly right
The themes of the film by-in-large defy agenda and manage to be fairly balanced on the side of both leading characters let alone political worldview. However, there is a subtle but important bend toward the importance of kindness and the relevance of family. Family values and Christian charity tend to be more concepts of the right when the left seems to spend more time screeching about marching in the streets and punching people they don’t like.