Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.
THE GOOD STUFF
Colin Farrell-Colin Farrell is a marvel, isn’t he? I mean, the man is all at once one of our flashiest movie stars in the world (THE BATMAN, THE GENTLEMAN, DUMBO, etc., etc., etc…), and he’s proved that from time to time. He is also an absolutely wonderful character actor who can somehow mold that Hollywood movie star facade into an Everyman and never have it be anything but believable.
It is his character in this movie that really goes through the seven stages of grief in theory. In going through those stages, it’s almost as if Farrell’s performance changes seven different times. All the changes are relatively subtle but noticeable, and he’s consistently funny, no matter what stage of grief. This is the performance of his that should merit him an Oscar nomination. If he doesn’t get one here, I don’t know what else he will have to do to get one. He is so damn good here.
CINEMATOGRAPHY- Shout out to Ben Davis, a cinematographer who’s worked with Martin McDonough a couple of times and has not made a movie that has looked this good with him. Every single solitary shot of this film belongs in an art gallery. Though it’s hard to say if he should be holding any trophies for his cinematography, given how many art house films tend to look just as beautiful this time of year, he should be a lock for a nom.
KERRY CONDON- If Colin Farrell’s character (Padraic) is the audience’s perspective in the story, it is Condon’s character (Siobhan) as his sister that is the audience’s voice. This character is keenly aware of all the slow-building chaos around her, and where it will go. All of her scenes are absolutely dynamite, even though her side story is extremely subpar to the conflict between the two main characters.
COLM DOHERTY (THE PERFORMANCE)- This may be Brendan Gleeson’s best performance. He has been one of the most underrated character actors for a really really long time, and I do believe that this will be something that gives him his Oscar nomination. There is serious heartbreak and rage in Doherty. All of these are physically expressed in this meticulous performance. It also should be noted that on-screen chemistry does not get better than Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. You saw that with IN BRUGES, and it’s very much the case here. All things considered, it’s amazing that that is the case, because…
THE BAD STUFF
COLM DOHERTY (THE CHARACTER)- I’m so torn on this. As funny as it may sound, I did feel that we really needed to see MORE explaining of the motivations of this character. Doherty is a major presence and the most impactful character in the story, but many of his motivations are subtly hinted at. He says he wants to be alone, yet is very chatty and borderline gregarious with literally every character except one man. He prides himself on his musicianship a great deal, and yet will happily cripple that entirely because he doesn’t want to talk to one man. Yet, there are these random acts of politeness given to the same man when he is in trouble or in a state of emotional duress.
In my humble opinion this required a lot more explanation than the movie gave. I saw this with two of my friends, both of which liked that they didn’t explain that aspect of things. I really didn’t. I do understand that it kind of is the nature of independent film to let the audience interpret things for themselves, and to not give them all the answers on screen. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be absolutely frustrating at times.
THE UGLY STUFF
BARRY KEOGHAN SCREEN TIME- Keoghan is an actor that’s proven himself to be quite good. That is certainly the case here. He plays the quirkiest character in a movie filled with quirkiness, he’s got a interestingly brutal backstory involving an abusive father who’s also a policeman, and he is very smitten with Siobhan.
So why is all of it so bad? Well, not only is there not enough screen time given to any of the things I’ve just named, but literally all of it is out of place. All of it feels disjointed. So much so, that towards the end of the film there’s a major revelation involving his character, and it has no impact because everything involving him happens off screen and does not relate in any way to the main story.
I keep hearing people talk about this film in relation to loneliness, friendship, and even heartbreak. I can see why people would feel these things. However, this movie to me is about one thing way above anything else…and that is toxic masculinity.
It’s a movie about the end of a friendship between two men that could easily been hashed out peacefully in a multitude of ways. This is a movie about pride and stubbornness, needless physical aggression, and a lack of expressing emotions even when you know the answer to your problem is doing exactly that with straightforward honesty. This is not only the best film about toxic masculinity that I’ve ever seen, but I’ll go as far to say that any film that will be made about toxic masculinity will only be able to match this film when it comes to covering all of the bases on the subject.
McDonough, Gleason, and Farrell are all at the top of their game, and more than likely will be at many black tie ceremonies come the springtime. As far as oscar-type films go, this is the one to beat thus far.
THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN is playing in theaters now