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The Banshees of Inisherin

There’s a really nice quote from Edward Yang, and I could Google it to get it accurate but I’m not going to because I think it’s more important to feel the sentiment than it is to get the words right. He basically says something to the effect of that film is a medium that allows us to live more than one life, because we get to feel and experience flashes of something else through it. A beautiful achievement of The Banshees of Inisherin is that it really does live and breath as if it’s a memory of living on a tiny island off the coast of Ireland, even to a Londoner who’s never lived outside of a city before. There’s a claustrophobia and as a result a pettiness among the characters that could only exist in this kind of setting, and what could be absurd is presented as really melancholic. I think this a wonderful film, but I hate how sad I feel as a result of it.

Some of that credit goes to Colin Farrell. He plays a guy who’s known on the island for being a bit dull, and he’s lost a fiddle-player friend, played by Brendan Gleeson, as a result of it. This just decides that he doesn’t like him anymore and he’d rather spend the time he has left on earth creating music to be remembered by rather than listening to dull bollocks. It blows up into a fairytale-esque situation where he’s threatened that, if he keeps bothering this ex-friend, his ex-friend will cut a finger off and give it to him for each and every instance of not just simply being left alone. All of this is going on while his more intelligent sister observes just how ridiculous it all is. Now, there are some really funny parts and I laughed a lot, but the credit that Colin Farrell deserves here is that he plays his character with such a sadness that seeing him pursue a friendship with someone who’s willing to self-mutilate to get away from him just left me with a sense of personal guilt that I’ve not felt since an episode of Hey Arnold upset me as a toddler by way of a particularly visceral (at the time) scene where Arnold became an outcast.

I think this is something I’ll feel a lot of warmth towards if I’m ever able to get over the sense of melancholy and despair that it seems to have created in me, but whether I will remains to be seen. This is as good as anything else Martin McDonagh has done so far, and given that it’s a story about a few guys on an isolated island with nothing better to worry about than each other, I think that’s a great testament to how good a writer he is. Unfortunately, it may take its place as my favourite film that I never want to see again.

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