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Banshees of Inisherin, The  (DVD)


Stars: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan, Pat Shortt

Director: Martin McDonagh

The catchpenny title - it refers to a tune - suggests fantasy or horror. And, although elements of both are present, this is in fact a quirky Irish black comedy that grows progressively darker towards the end. Finally, it's not so much whimsy as grimsy.

It's 1923 - in the distance gunfire and explosions can be heard as the Irish Free State and the IRA blast the bejasus out of each other - at a small farming community on an island off the mainland coast. Life is bleak, with houses as stony as the roadside walls. There's the local pub and the village shop and a harbour.

Fortyish Padraic (a change of pace for Farrell and one he handles well) and curmudgeonly retired shepherd Colm (a role grizzled Gleeson could play in his sleep) meet each other each day and shoot the breeze - until the day the film opens, when Colm abruptly severs the friendship. When a baffled Padraic asks him why, the old grump just tells him 'I don't like you no more'.

Ignored by Colm, who concentrates on his Gaelic fiddle-playing, Padraic persists in seeking reconciliation, but is rebuffed at every turn by a furious Colm, who threatens to cut his fingers off if Paddy doesn't desist - and starts to do so.

The film is chucklesome from time to time, but it doesn't half go on - too long, methinks, by a good 20 minutes, by which time the scenario has long since parted company with reality. Still, Gleeson does his own fiddle-playing and the movie is beautifully shot on location by talented cinematographer Ben Davis.

David Quinlan

Ireland 2022. UK Distributor: Searchlight (Buena Vista International). Colour (unspecified).
109 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 25 Nov 2022