One of the most acclaimed movies of the year, “The Banshees of Inisherin,” is a visually stunning melancholic comedy about lost friendships and the need to leave a legacy behind. McDonagh brings to our attention the loneliness of old age in a rather new manner that is one-half hilarious and another half sorrowful, without wasting a second for character background or scene set-up. The overarching theme of this movie is so sad that even Shakespeare would take a minute to believe it’s a comedy. To be fair, the title itself gives one a foreboding idea of things. Even still, it is an entertaining film with rib-tickling dialogue and a unique ambiance due to its Irish nature. Colin Farrell delivers a career-best performance, supported by a fantastic cast including Kerry Condon, Brendon Gleeson, and Barry Keoghan (who especially shines in this role).
‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
The background is 1923 Ireland, and a civil war is taking place. On the remote island of Inisherin, a disgruntled old man named Colm has just told his best friend, Pádraic, that he doesn’t want to be friends anymore. Pádraic is in the mindset that this is because of a riff he had caused when he was drunk and immediately apologizes to Colm over a pint. Colm tells Pádraic that he has not said anything to hurt Colm’s feelings, but he just doesn’t like him anymore. Pádraic is hurt by his words but decides to give him some time. Colm later tells Pádraic that he is very serious about severing ties with him and that if he doesn’t stop bothering him, even if it is through other people like his sister or the town’s priest, he will cut his fingers off.
Pádraic, along with rest of the folks in the town, can’t believe what he has said and start taking his words seriously. Siobhan, Pádraic’s loving sister, consoles and even takes care of Pádraic, even though he’s a fully grown adult, because Colm tells him that he is too dull. In the meantime, Pádraic starts spending more time with the town’s outcast kid, Dominic. Dominic is the son of Peadar, the town’s policeman, who beats him up. Dominic has a crush on Siobhan and tries hard to spend time with her through Pádraic. Mrs. McCormick is Inisherin’s nosey old woman who predicts that there will be a couple of deaths in the town soon (she represents the mythical banshees who in ancient Ireland were said to cry, wail or weep to speak for a familial member’s death). Who died, and did Colm and Pádraic rekindle their friendship?
‘The Banshees Of Inisherin’ Ending Explained – What Is The Reason Behind Colm’s Newfound Dislike For Pádraic?
By the end of the movie, Colm has cut off all his fingers because Pádraic has spoken to him more times than he should’ve. In the middle of the movie, somewhere, Pádraic tells Colm in a drunken daze that he doesn’t appreciate that Colm would rather spend his time with Peadar, the child abuser, than himself. Pádraic talks about niceness; he thinks the most important part of being a person is to be nice, and Colm is not nice anymore. Colm replies that nobody is remembered for niceness and only art, such as music, creates legacies. Although this movie begins with the main conflict, this bit is when things start to escalate very quickly.
At this point, Colm tells the townspeople and Siobhan that he “might like” Pádraic again because he took a stand for himself. The unfortunate truth, though, is that Pádraic, who feels terrible for saying those things to Colm, is still too “nice,” and so he goes to apologize to him. Colm then chooses to cut one of his fingers off, even though he is a musician, to prove his point. He throws it at Pádraic’s door and leaves. Pádraic and Siobhan are absolutely petrified by this gesture and decide to leave Colm alone. Mrs. McCormick then gives Pádraic a cryptic message that there may be two deaths in Inisherin soon. It is at this point that Pádraic somehow figures out that the only way this problem can be resolved is if one of the two fighting members dies. Still, when Dominic tells Pádraic that Colm thought he was not dull anymore when he yelled at him, Pádraic thinks it’s an opportunity to be a “bad man” to Colm. At this point, Siobhan has told Pádraic that she will be leaving him and moving to the mainland because it seems the war will be over soon, and she’s found a nice job there.
Pádraic, who loves his sister dearly, is terribly hurt by this, and his feeling of loneliness as she leaves, in a way, triggers him to do what follows. He understands that Colm wouldn’t find him dull if he were horrible to him. He tells the ‘wee fellow’ who Colm is making friends with that his father is dying and he should go there and feels a kind of thrill over it. Later, when he tells Dominic this, Dominic can’t believe it and tells him that he thought Pádraic was the nicest man in the town, but he’s just like the rest of them. Pádraic tries to defend himself by saying he’s only trying not to be dull, but by then, Dominic has left in a rage. Pádraic then visits Colm in his home and tells him he’s come for the “opposite of licks,” meaning he’s not going to be the nice guy anymore and tells the man in the same unhinged manner that he has been treated the whole time that he will be waiting for him at the pub like old times. Colm then cuts off the rest of his four fingers and throws them at Pádraic’s house again.
Pádraic, who has been waiting at the pub the whole day, returns home to find that his beloved donkey has died by choking on Colm’s finger. Enraged, he goes to the pub and tells the man that he will light his house on fire the next day because his donkey has died, and he will not check if he’s in the house or not. Colm’s intention was never to hurt anyone other than himself and seeing that the donkey died because of him puts him in a state of guilt. The next day, Pádraic goes to Colm’s home, takes his dog, and then sets the house on fire. When he looks inside, he sees that Colm is smelling smoke inside the burning house. This makes him believe that one of them is finally dying, bringing an end to this unreasonable fight. Pádraic then goes home, where all the animals are inside, living with him. The policeman sees what he’s done and tries to go beat him up for it, but at that time, Mrs. McCormick (our banshee) has grimmer news for him: his son Dominic has died at sea. Leaving us in the end with both Colm and Pádraic alive. Now, when Colm suddenly feels the need to reconcile due to his guilt over killing Pádraic’s donkey, he wants to “let go” of the fight and be friends again. It is Pádraic’s turn then to say that some things are best left broken, giving us the most desolate ending one could ask for.
Throughout the movie, Colm is writing a song, and at a certain point, he tells Pádraic that it is called “The Banshees of Inisherin.” Pádraic asks him why, saying there are no banshees in Inisherin, to which Colm tells him it is because he likes the double “sh” sound. This conversation, in a way, sums up the entire story of the movie. There is no good reason for Colm to hurt his good friend Pádraic, fight with him, or mutilate himself. He is doing so because he suddenly has the realization that he is alone and has no legacy to leave behind, thinking this one thing could keep him “alive” long after he’s gone. It is really interesting to see the parallels between Siobhan and Colm’s loneliness, though; while Colm is none the wiser, Siobhan actively moves away from the people who hurt her (Inisherin’s people) and moves to a new place to start over. It is Colm who wants to stay in his desolate state and blame others for his own dullness.
Of course, there are parallels between the civil war and the entire film, with Colm and Pádraic being two sides (both Irish) and Jenny the donkey and Dominic becoming innocent collateral damage, representing a great many Irish people who died for no reason. Dominic’s story is truly devastating because, at the end of the day, he didn’t even get the girl, and maybe he killed himself because of it, or maybe he fell into the sea accidentally. Mrs. McCormick’s prediction does come true because Dominic and Jenny the donkey are the two bodies found at the end, but if you had to see the death of two people, it would also be Pádraic, the nice man who has died and been replaced by an unhinged Pádraic due to the trauma and loss he is facing.
‘Dancing With Your Dog’ And The Power Of A Landscape
It is very evident that Pádraic has a liking for animals more than for humans because they are easy to understand and loyal. It is the animals who remain with him in the end, and Colm’s dog, even though he was saved by Pádraic, returns to his true owner. Colm is also seen dancing with his dog when he finishes his tune, and Pádraic, in a very vulnerable state, tells him there is “no harm done” in dancing with his dog, leaving us with a glimmer of hope that the two will rekindle their crippled friendship. Siobhan happens to be the wisest of the lot in Inisherin as she navigates her exit from there and also honestly tells Colm to stop hurting her poor brother because, at the end of the day, it is all ‘Grievances over nothing,’ that they are all dull men. True to its title, the soundtrack of the movie covers us in a blanket of sadness that gets stuck on us, just like the sounds of a wailing banshee (or so we would imagine). The landscape is utilized brilliantly to represent the vastness of how alone one feels even in a beautiful place surrounded by people; concealing one’s feelings can only make you feel small and weak and alone, hurting not just yourself but the ones around you too. It’s time to go hug our friends and tell them they’re dull but loved.