As you guys are aware, Everything Everywhere All At Once is still in my current running for favorite film of 2022. Between beautifully interwoven storytelling and symbolism, exquisite production values, a stellar cast, beautiful doses of tragicomedy and a rollercoaster of emotions, it was an encapsulation of everything that I loved about film and filmmaking. After that, it became a waiting game to see if any other films were going to usurp EEAAO.
“Banshees of Inisherin” is the first and only film this year that has come THE CLOSEST to possibly taking that top spot.
Not many people can take a conflict like this and ooze so much odd-couple comedy and lace it together with this much bleak, toxic satire; Martin McDonagh is one of those few and he’s made a career out of doing that. His directorial style can best be described as riotous but that’s what makes the setup here engaging: a tightly controlled but free-flowing, weirdly compelling undercurrent of psychological notions and consistent entertainment.
There should be nothing funny about repeating the same lines over and over again but this movie finds a way; most of the dialogue being a season-dip hothouse of irony and memorable quips. Comedy may be hit or miss at times but the delivery of it all help it stand out, it’s expertly balanced with its subject matter in tone and pacing and as someone who took a field trip down to Ireland back in 2016, the scenery is just as vivid, lush and tantalizing as I remember, taking the cartography from these remotest lands and numbing you to the reality the story depicts.
The score has an off-kilter quality to its fable-like presentation aided by a macabre yet dense atmosphere, solid, sturdy camerawork and editing and the odd-couple pairing of Colin Farrell and Dominic Gleason making for a fantastic if not heartbreaking dynamic duo.
In both context and execution, the narrative feels just as abrupt and fickle as it does anecdotical between the island being its own character, deeply affecting its inhabitants and sickening them with its own disease to where everyone suffers a massive inferiority complex. I love how seamlessly it throws us into the girth of the time period and allows us to sympathize just enough with the characters and their…. vicissitudes.
The conflict between these characters are also a handy metaphor for Ireland’s Civil War during the 1920’s but also indulges the gleeful cynicism on the cruelty of isolation, small town life, war and humanity's contradictions on superstitions, isolation, mass emigration, poverty and identity. It doesn’t sound like much of it gels together but between the fabled questions of “What do we value most in life” or “how do we plan to spend the rest of our time here”, McDonagh’s fascination with the most visceral, vengeful extremes of human behavior goes hand-in-hand with that long running joke on the Internet about how “Men will literally do X instead of going to therapy”. Wasting no time in picking apart the absurdity behind the stupid decisions that lead to our own self-destruction, the picture comes together seamlessly as its themes feel more relevant today as it did probably 100 years ago.
If I REALLY had to nitpick for areas I wasn’t keen on, the poverty of the time could’ve been explored a tad more but this boils down to the fact that I’ve been to Ireland and so…..yeah.
Is it as enthralling as In Bruges? Debatable. But this one is definitely a winner.