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The Banshees of Inisherin: Another Triumph for Martin McDonagh (Blu-ray)


The Film:


Ever since renowned playwright Martin McDonagh got into the business of writing and directing films, he's continued to impress again and again. His very first project, a short entitled "Six Shooter," won him an Oscar, while his outstanding later features "In Bruges" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" would nab him three more nominations, including two for Original Screenplay. His brilliantly sharp writing quickly made him one of those filmmakers whose projects become hotly-anticipated events, which brings us to his latest feature, "The Banshees of Inisherin," a film that's already been receiving major awards buzz (and a multitude of wins) ever since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival a few months back.


The story is set in 1923 on the island of Inisherin, just off the coast of Ireland. Padraic (Colin Farrell), who lives with his sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon), calls on his friend Colm (Brendan Gleeson) at his home to go to the local pub, as is their custom. Strangely though, Padraic finds him acting rather cold and distant, with Colm eventually explaining that he wants to call their friendship off because he doesn't like him anymore. Padraic is obviously taken aback by this, and sets out to find the truth behind the matter, while trying to get his friend back in the process. However, he finds it more difficult than it seems, with alarming consequences that follow.


Now this may seem like a rather bizarre situation, but bizarre situations are exactly what McDonagh does so extraordinarily well. "In Bruges" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" showed us his brilliant knack for coming up with fascinating characters and putting them in peculiar, but thoroughly engrossing situations, with sharp, memorable dialogue all along the way. "The Banshees of Inisherin" is yet another marvelous example of this, this time giving us two rather ordinary fellows whose friendship has suddenly been ended by one of them.


With just this unusual setup, McDonagh is able to explore intriguing themes of friendship, life, and death, as one of these men seeks to mend, while the other seeks to put his time to better use. And even while all of that's occurring, McDonagh gives us other compelling characters to enrich the story, like Padraic's sister Siobhan, who wants something more for herself, but also wants to make sure her brother keeps out of trouble, and Dominic, the somewhat odd son of the local constable who is consistently taking beatings at the hands of his father.


To help bring this strange little tale to the screen, McDonagh has once again assembled a remarkable ensemble that do a marvelous job of taking on these characters. Colin Farrell in particular does magnificent work as the "arguably" dim-witted Padraic, who just doesn't know how to cope with this sudden turn of events. Meanwhile, Brendan Gleeson gives his performance a touching earnest sadness throughout, with Kerry Condon giving Siobhan a delightful fiery fierceness. In short, the cast (which also includes Barry Keoghan, Gary Lydon, and Sheila Flitton) is wonderfully suited to bringing the inhabitants of this island to life.


Aside from its excellent screenplay and cast, there are numerous technical & design elements that have to be mentioned, including Ben Davis' beautiful cinematography, Mark Tildesley's gorgeous production design, Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh's exquisite costumes, and, of course, McDonagh's skilled direction. Taken all together, McDonagh and co. have crafted an exceptional film, one that's strange, quirky, and maybe even a little unsettling to some, but also one that easily stands as one of the very best of the year.


Video/Audio:


"The Banshees of Inisherin" arrives on Blu-ray in a gorgeous 2.39:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of outstanding quality. The image is perfectly sharp throughout, highlighting the film's beautiful landscapes, sets, costumes, and cinematography. Likewise the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is exceptional, giving you all of the dialogue and Carter Burwell's score in excellent quality. Overall, the treatment is simply top-notch in both departments.


Special Features:


Creating the Banshees of Inisherin (18 Minutes): An excellent look behind the scenes of the film, featuring interviews with the cast and crew.


Five Deleted Scenes (5 Minutes)


Conclusion:


With a brilliantly sharp screenplay that explores intriguing themes, an exceptional cast led by a marvelous Colin Farrell, and all-around gorgeous design & technical elements, Martin McDonagh's "The Banshees of Inisherin" easily stands as one of the very best films of the year.


Score: 4.5/5


Available on Blu-ray starting tomorrow.


Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.



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