THE BANSHEE OF INISHERIN: chronicle
The absurdity of the end of living together. No preaching, but overwhelming, depressing sadness. And happy new year, above all.
After a first act that casts doubt on the context of its story, mischievously playing on a certain timelessness, THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN ends up specifying its era: 1923. What the inhabitants see off their island – explosions – what they hear when the wind blows – gunshots – are the scars of a civil war that is tearing apart the separatists in Ireland. “It was easier when we were united and we killed the English”, launches a character. LES BANSHEES D’INISHERIN has nothing to do with a historical film. Never mind the war going on in the background: what Martin McDonagh is telling here is the absurdity that underlies all conflict. We know the filmmaker’s ability to use genre to maximize the effectiveness of his stories – as with the western and the revenge movie in THREE BILLBOARDS. Here, he shifts the approach and uses a metaphor. On this island of Inisherin, that morning, Pádraic (Colin Farrell) goes about his business and intends to spend the day at the pub with his best friend, Colm (Brendan Gleeson). Except that he tells her… that he doesn’t want to talk to her anymore. Reason, cruel, mediocre and insane, McDonagh first studies and develops with incisive humor, with verbal ping-pong, scathing valves and offbeat situations. As if he was eyeing the big monthy-pythonic comedy. Until he takes advantage of having pushed the spectator to lower his guard to deal him his most formidable blows. Because suddenly, the story changes. Not with a visible event that would upset the deal. But subtly, without announcing. Comedy suddenly gives way to tragedy. The absurdity goes from funny to detestable. And the whole scene sinks scene after scene into a depressive, pessimistic state, where nothing has any meaning or outcome and where kindness and living together disintegrate, suffocated by a diffuse melancholy then frank sadness. There, the actors’ interpretation proves to be absolutely essential: Gleeson’s precision in inflexibility; the humanity of Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan, the only somewhat sane souls; and above all the universality of Colin Farrell, decidedly one of the most fascinating actors of our time, capable of making people forget his aura and his star physique to give credibility to each of his characters, however ordinary they may be. Pádraic’s gazes at the collapse of his world, frightened and unnamedly sad, will remain among the great and memorable cinematic images of 2022.
By Martin McDonagh. With Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon. Ireland. 1h54. In theaters December 28