Martin McDonagh of 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' and 'In Bruges' fame reunites with the two stars of the latter, Colin Farrell, and Brendan Gleeson for his absurd new movie The 'Banshees of Inisherin', a dark comedy-drama, which is highly touted for Oscar success, following its victory of best picture at the Venice Film Festival. The movie is a wild, wacky ride through the absurd fallout of a friendship on an island off the coast of Ireland during the Irish Civil War.

Though war never comes to Inisherin, strife is still plentiful. Padraic, wonderfully portrayed by Colin Farrell, is dismayed when Colm, similarly well performed by Brendan Gleeson, his friend and drinking partner, begins to avoid him as he regards their friendship as a waste of time. As Padraic begins his desperate bid to restore their friendship, tensions increase and Colm is driven to a desperate vendetta act that harms both parties in a cataclysmic fashion.

Despite the wacky premise, the brilliance of McDonagh’s direction and screenplay blends bitter, unforced, and humorous dialogue and almost note-perfect performances to make Banshees seem so grounded and enjoyable. McDonagh creates a story so witty and unique, you hang on to every word, despite the thick accents, and his choice of eerie music in the beginning hints at the absurdity to come, and he and Ben Davis, the cinematographer, whose shot composition help to show the remoteness of the island and Padraic and Colm’s conflict, both deserve credit for managing to change the tone of the movie fluidly with just a single scene, against the backdrop of the Civil War and cannons audible on the mainland, which beautifully mirrors the events on screen.

The performances are all career-best. The leads both give controlled yet conflicted performances, and each give their respective characters the gravitas each character deserves. Yet special mentions must go to both Barry Keoghan’s turn as Dominic, a much less serious role than Keoghan is used to, and Kerry Condon, who had previously gone under the radar in other McDonagh films, who is finally able to shine with a wonderful outing as Siobhan, Padraic’s infinitely smarter sister with bigger dreams. Condon is the true foundation of the film, giving a Supporting Actress Oscar-worthy spin, and she is greatly missed after her exit from the film, after which the movie starts to dwindle.

All actors would be worthy of at least a nomination next spring at the Oscars, but the most likely to win would be the main lead Farrell, who already won best actor at the Venice Film Festival. The mix of humorous confusion and anger required for the role could come off as comical in the hands of some of the very best, yet Farrell somehow makes it all seem so real. Yet, for all the brilliance of his performance, the sheer genius of Farrell and 'The Batman' production team make Farrell’s performance as the Penguin in that movie so much more memorable.

The brilliant performances and exquisite choice of themes of pursuit of glory, friendship, melancholy, love for animals, and compassion in conflict should come together to create an instant classic and McDonagh’s magnum opus, yet The Banshees of Inisherin is not quite the sum of its parts. Siobhan’s sudden exit, the second half with a darker tone that doesn’t match the first for quality, and a rash ending that fails to deliver on the film’s previous merit hinder this movie’s potential for perfection and leave a sour taste in the viewer’s mouth. This movie is brilliant and would deserve all the acting Oscars it is touted for, yet the screenplay is found lacking in the dying light.

Banshees is a very strong return for McDonagh, five years after Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, filled with stellar performance, and brilliant wit, yet his film from 2017 still retains the crown for his magnum opus with a much more concise screenplay.

Final Score: 8.75/10