The Banshees Of Inisherin Is One Of The Most Brutal Break-Up Movies Ever Made [Fantastic Fest]

You know the cliche (and the cliched song lyric): love hurts. And cinema has spent over a century exploring the pains of romantic love, but rarely giving platonic love the same level of detail, attention, and care. Friendships in movies are there to cheer on, or shout down, a romance. They’re the supporting act to the real show. McDonagh, a filmmaker with a keen eye and ear for how people coexist (and sometimes don’t), understands the weight a friendship carries in the social contract, how a best friend has the importance of a lover, even though saying that out loud can engender an eye roll. We don’t want to admit we need friends — we’re supposed to be tough! — but humans are social creatures. Without that shoulder or that ear, without our pub buddy, what meaning do we have?

That’s the crisis in the soul of Pádraic, a simple but kind man who lives to hang out with his animals (Oscar campaign for Jenny the donkey starts now) and Colm, his lifelong buddy and frequent bar companion. There’s nothing else to do in the isolated but staggeringly beautiful community of Inisherin. It’s too tight, too small, too off the beaten path, to not have a buddy. When Colm calmly informs him that their friendship is over, and over for no clear reason, Pádraic spirals. What did he do wrong? How can he fix it?

McDonagh uses Pádraic as the film’s POV character — his confusion, his terror, his bitterness, is the lens through which we experience this baffling break-up, which only gets far, far worse before the credits roll.

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