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8/17/2022 • 4 min read
This fall, actors Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson star in a new movie that marks the most unexpected cinematic reunion of the year. Back in 2008, the two starred in Martin McDonagh's directorial debut, IN BRUGES. That movie is an emotional and hilarious escapade in which two hit men are told to hide out in the Belgian city of Bruges after a job gone terribly wrong.
Both actors have done tremendous work throughout their careers, of course, but IN BRUGES is an indisputable high point for both. Now, they reunite in THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN which, somewhat like their previous matchup, is about a friendship gone wrong. The trailer is wry and funny, and seeing Farrell and Gleason sparring once again fills our hearts.
Even knowing what to expect from a movie by Martin McDonagh (more on that in a moment) we're somewhat surprised by how dark and strange this story turns — and how quickly. The basic setup is familiar enough, as a friendship sours, seemingly based on long-simmering resentments and differences.
But the thing with the fingers? Take it down a notch, Brendan Gleeson!
Here's the official synopsis, in case anything in the trailer wasn't clear: Set on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN follows lifelong friends Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson), who find themselves at an impasse when Colm unexpectedly puts an end to their friendship. A stunned Pádraic, aided by his sister Siobhán (Kerry Condon) and troubled young islander Dominic (Barry Keoghan), endeavors to repair the relationship, refusing to take no for an answer. But Pádraic's repeated efforts only strengthen his former friend’s resolve and when Colm delivers a desperate ultimatum, events swiftly escalate, with shocking consequences.
Playwright Martin McDonagh first found acclaim and a serious audience thanks to his run of wickedly effective plays that culminated with "The Pillowman." Prior to "The Pillowman," McDonagh's plays were grounded in County Galway, Ireland, where he spent time as a child. McDonagh wrote two different trilogies set in different areas of the County. Interestingly, the last play of the second trilogy was never published or performed, because the author wanted to "revisit [it] when he's older."
That play was called "The Banshees of Inisheer," but we do not know if this movie shares any of the text or ideas of the play. Perhaps McDonagh simply used the title for a very different work. (Which we've seen happen once this year already, as David Cronenberg reused the title of an early short film for his new feature.)
In addition to IN BRUGES, McDonagh has directed SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS and the Oscar-winning THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI. Those three movies have turned McDonagh into a director of major stature, but it has been five years since THREE BILLBOARDS. We're glad he's back!
A major part of the reason that IN BRUGES has a devoted cult following is the chemistry between Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. Whether they're playing a scene in which their characters are at ease with one another or are violently butting heads, the actors conjure the feeling of deep history. It's a great pleasure to watch them spar, especially when Farrell's rapid-fire delivery tries to steamroll Gleeson's measured performance.
Farrell and Gleeson are like a comedy duo from the Classical Hollywood era, but they're playing out scenarios that have massive emotional weight. It's not easy to play comedy or drama in the way these two can — but to see them swerve with pitch-perfect modulation between the two extremes is really something. Whatever THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN really ends up being about (and we suspect there's more to this broken friendship than the trailer reveals) we're eager to see Farrell and Gleeson play it out.
All images courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.
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