Enduring friendship is precious. It’s the kind of friendship that extends beyond long distances and dissolves lengthy times between contact. When a friendship rekindles, as if not a moment of time has elapsed without any awkward silences, uncertainty about what to say or without a need to say anything at all, that is when you know you are part of a deep friendship.
Colm and Pádraic live on Inisherin, an island off the mainland of Ireland. It is an island caught in a moment of time. People have their routines and life meanders from day to day with the expectation that everyone will repeat their meanderings the next day and the day after that ad infinitum.
Colm and Pádraic, too, live according to predictable patterns. Everyday at 2pm, Pádriac walks to Colm’s house and they saunter together to the pub. Pints are poured, gossip shared and irrelevancies discussed. And time passes without anything of significance defining their lives.
That is how it is until one day Colm bluntly says to Pádriac, “I just don’t like you no more.” Pádriac doesn’t comprehend the words. He knows the words but not what they mean. How can he and Colm not be friends? How can they not meet for a pint at 2pm? How can they not waste chatter on meaningless information? That’s the way of their world and that’s the way it has always been.
Colm blurts out that Pádriac isn’t interesting anymore. Colm wants to spend the rest of his days in the pursuit of meaningful tasks and pursuits like writing music he plays on his fiddle at night at the pub. Pádriac still doesn’t understand. They are friends.
Colm & Pádraic
Colm insistence that Pádriac leaves him alone, to the point of not sitting with him at the pub and sharing pints, baffles Pádriac. His simplistic urging that everything will be alright the next day because Colm is just having an off day infuriates Colm to the point that Colm threatens drastic and severe repercussions involving mutilation of limbs. This does not deter Pádriac. Nobody would do what Colm threatens to do. Surely not.
Colm’s severing—and “severing” is pertinent to what happens and demonstrates a physical rendering of their emotional separation —of their friendship also gets to the heart of a deep felt despair with which he lives. Pádriac’s vexed friendship is key to Colm’s emotional despair but it’s also goes beyond his friendship with Pádriac.
Colm is unfulfilled and feels the incessant chatter and shared pints with Pádriac will end with his life being a series of unfulfilled, meaningless moments. None of them will be remembered when their time ends and their lives will fade away with nothing left to remind people that they ever existed. If Colm could compose one song that will continue to be played and heard in the pub for a long time, he would feel his life had purpose.
Their relationship, however, gains momentum, like an emotional avalanche, toward’s catastrophic ends. There, seemingly, is no solution. Colm’s intransigence in his insistence that the friendship is over is unwavering; Padriac’s deluded belief that all can be resolved over another pint at the pub is doomed.
Dominic, Siobhán, & Jenny, the donkey
All the residents on the island are affected by Colm and Pádriac’ disintegrating friendship because this is a close knit community with its share of tragic and dark secrets. Pádriac’s sister Siobhán, his beloved pet miniature donkey Jenny, Pádriac’s friend Dominic and the bartenders at the pub, who, remarkably, reminded me of the characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Shakespeare’s Hamlet with their fast paced lines of unintentionally humourous dialogue, unsuccessfully intercede in matters. The rhythmic flow of the dialogue throughout the movie is a delight, even when it’s sinister. Any lighthearted banter takes a darker tone as emotions overwhelm Colm and Pádriac’s behaviour. Things look dire. Resolutions will not magically appear.
Overseeing these personal ructions is an old woman, Mrs. McCormick, a seer who predicts that there will be a death on the island. If her appearance is anything to go by, her prediction will be fulfilled. Her visage and persona link to the notion of banshees expressed in the film’s title. She is not a shrieking demonic creature but a figure of foreboding who everyone avoids. If we consider Colm and Pádriac's descent into futility, they are portends of their own demise.
A Banshee is said to be a fairy in Irish legend and her scream is believed to be an omen of death. The scream is also called 'caoine' which means 'keening' and is a warning that there will be an imminent death in the family and as the Irish families blended over time, it is said that each family has its own Banshee! Legend says that Banshees don’t cause death; they only serve as a warning of it. Mr. McCormick provides that warning.
Unlike many movies that find a comfortable resolution to duelling friendships, The Banshees of Inisherin will not provide you with comfort. There is a truce of sorts between Colm and Pádriac but only after a series of heart-wrenching bitterness and tragic circumstances. Colm and Pádriac reveal they are capable of both compassion and evil. The banshees’ warning descends like gloom on the island and the people who live there. The sinister side of human nature overwhelms the community.
The Banshees of Inisherin is an utterly sad tale of friendship lost and personal despair. Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell are remarkable in their roles. The entire cast is a tour de force of performance and capturing the despair of ordinary people seeking to change their lives beyond the mundane of daily routines.
There is no resolution, only resignation. You cannot be left unmoved after watching The Banshees of Inisherin.
Official Trailer The Banshees of Inisherin
All photos, posters and video clips © 20th Century Studios/Property of Searchlight Pictures
FILM EXTRAS:”FRIENDSHIPS ON THE EDGE”
Francis Ha (2013)
Noah Baumbach’s film follows Greta Gerwig’s Frances as she tries to put together her life and figure out where she wants it to take her after falling out with her best friend. Frances Halladay is a 27-year-old dancer who lives in New York City with her best friend from college, Sophie. Her life is upended when Sophie tells her she plans to relocate to Tribeca, which Sophie considers her dream neighborhood, with a different friend.
Mystic River (2003)
Fights with friends can boil down to simple misunderstandings, although the friction between childhood friends Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn) and Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) is a little bit more fraught, as it seems like Dave might be involved in Jimmy’s daughter’s murder. Spoiler: This one doesn’t have a very happy ending, as murder is pretty much the most extreme form of un-friending.