Geek Review: The Banshees of Inisherin

Ending a friendship is never easy. In today’s day and age, one can simply mute, ghost, unfollow or even block friends and those they no longer want to be associated with. But how does that work on the small island of Inisherin, a rustic windswept rock off the coast of Ireland?

By giving the finger. Quite literally.

A tragic comedy, The Banshees of Inisherin follows two best friends, dairy farmer Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and aspiring composer Colm (Brendan Gleeson). Despite their professional differences, the two are inseparable. Older Colm is a serious thinker who writes, plays the fiddle and falls prey to bouts of existential despair, while Pádraic is a simple soul who can talk for hours about horse poo. He’s a little bit dull, but overall, a nice guy. 

The Banshees of Inisherin

Every day at 2, Pádraic will invite Colm to the local pub to chat about good normal things and bond over pints of beer and shots of whiskey, and every day, the two would go home drunk and happy. 

Except today, Colm doesn’t want to anymore and avoids his best friend at all costs. Confused and hurt, Pádraic would do what any regular person would do – talk to his best friend about his strange behaviour – but gets a very disappointing answer, “I just don’t like you anymore.” 

Soon begins the souring of what was a good friendship. Threats of self-mutilation, murder attempts, sabotage, jealousy and tears, The Banshees of Inisherin is a dramatic, and at some points, comedic exploration of male friendships and male pride at its core. Our characters aren’t cold-blooded killers or skilled assassins – they’re your average Joes who live a simple village life, but the extent they would go to break/rekindle their friendship is so extreme that it’s amusing to see how it plays out. 

The Banshees of Inisherin

The film also explores themes of loss, grief, depression and love. Pádraic suffers the loss of a best friend and goes through the various stages of grief. Pádraic refuses to believe that this is the end of their friendship and makes multiple childish attempts to renegotiate new terms but ends up being disappointed over and over again. At the end, we see the character turn to anger and acceptance that Colm will no longer be a friend again. As for Colm, existential despair led to the decision to end the friendship, and in his efforts to move on and live a life separate from Pádraic, he finds himself deeper in depression and goes back and forth between feeling guilty and relieved. 

These themes are also seen in secondary characters. Siobhán (Kerry Condon) and Pádraic are a pair of loving siblings who have grown closer and protective of each other after the death of their parents. When Siobhán receives a job offer on the mainland, she struggles between her love and concern for her brother and deciding what is best for herself. She also attempts to bridge the gap between Pádraic and Colm and whilst she remains unsuccessful, there’s no denying that it comes from a place of love for both parties involved. 

Condon’s Siobhán is likeable and is especially relatable for viewers who often find themselves stuck between picking up the pieces of those they love or choosing to finally begin their lives as an individual free from such responsibilities. She is also the smartest person on the island and though her character’s story doesn’t take a big part of the plot, her wasted potential, dilemma and eventual departure can be felt.

A character that will grow on viewers is Barry Keoghan’s Dominic. The island’s dimwit, Dominic is a loud and inappropriate 20-something-year-old who is almost always drunk and a little bit unhinged – a result of abuse from his policeman father Peadar (Gary Lydon). Perhaps seen as unimportant at first, Dominic has the purest heart and surprises both the characters and the audience with his great perceptive skills and honesty. 

That said, there’s no denying that Farrell and Gleeson are two halves of the movie’s beating heart. Gleeson’s Colm is world-weary and not at all a nice person – maybe a little mad too – but hard to hate. Gleeson brings tenderness to this hard-shelled man that viewers can’t help but understand and even empathise with his desire to live an isolated, peaceful life. As for Farrell, this versatile actor proves that he can play absolutely any character a director throws at him. His Pádraic is a loveable underdog who despite his very questionable actions throughout the film, we’re inclined to let him off the hook. Together, the two give understandable humanity to two friends with a permanent wedge between them. 

Running for an hour and 54 minutes, The Banshees of Inisherin doesn’t feel like a drag even though the story moves very slowly. Much like plenty of other arthouse titles, The Banshees of Inisherin is slow and patient. Moments of heart, tragedy and hilarity slowly sweep in and out of the movie, much like the waves that crash upon the Irish island’s shore. It is definitely not a genre or style that masses are used to, but audiences who enjoy indie and niche films will find The Banshees of Inisherin easy and delightful to watch. 

The Banshees of Inisherin

The only thing we think audiences might struggle with is understanding the Irish accent and colloquial slang. Unless you’re familiar with the accent and slang, and have consumed Irish media like Belfast, Bad Sisters, heck even Derry Girls in the past, you best hope your theatres provide English subtitles and are ready to put your listening skills to the test. And before you get shocked, a fag is a cigarette. Do not cancel Keoghan. 

The Banshees of Inisherin may just be director, screenwriter and playwright Martin McDonagh’s defining work. Celebrated for his absurdist black humour, McDonagh has created a small and crazed world of sad people taking their pain out on each other in The Banshees of Inisherin. No one makes sad, sorrowful films anymore but McDonagh does a brilliant job of making them comedic and enjoyable at the same time. 

In all, The Banshees of Inisherin is a breakup film about two friends that is part sad, part tender, part comedy and tragedy, with eccentric characters and a talented cast. It may feel a little thin if you hold it to conventional standards of comedy or drama, but it is worth the small village gossip.



The Banshees of Inisherin explores the complications of a platonic male friendship where two old pals stop being polite and start getting real. Tragic and comedic, it is an easy and delightful watch, especially for lovers of arthouse films. 

  • Story - 8/10
  • Direction - 8/10
  • Characterisation - 9/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 9/10