The Banshees of Inisherin
The importance of being dull
Just as the Irish civil war is having its last gasp, two forever friends (Colin Farrell as the animal-loving Pádraic; Brendan Gleeson playing fiddler-composer Colm) fall out when the musician and older of the pair decides that his pal is too dull to be worthy of any continued acquaintance.
The sometimes referee between the estranged pair is Siobhán (Kerry Condon quietly firing on all cylinders as the go-between), the bookish, spinster and sister of Pádraic who tries her best to bring calm and respect back to the relationship, but when things continue to escalate, opts to move off the island and take a job in the safer confines of a library. One of her best interjections in the feud is telling the supposedly more intellectual fiddler that Mozart lived in the 18th not Colm’s declared 17th century. That truth puts the lie to the notion that “I am better than you” but seems lost on Pádraic.
Also in the mix is local copper, Peadar. Even snoozing in his briefs, Gary Lydon comes across in fine form as the bigoted pedophile who enforces the law of the land—except for himself, of course. Son Domenic (who has the unrequited hots for Siobhán) is given a courageous performance from Barry Keoghan. His final fate is readily predictable.
Continuing with this season’s covey of parts for four-legged creatures, Jenny the Donkey (Pádraic’s favourite)—with bewitching eyes and flapping ears—steals every scene she’s in.
As Colm’s fingers start to be literally shorn away in his disdain of Pádraic’s attempts at any sort of reconciliation, the notion arises: what is worse, dullness or despair?
Writer-director McDonagh has deftly created a film that goes deeper into the human experience—the good, mostly bad then ugly—allowing viewers to come away with more questions than answers, not about what they’ve just seen, but about themselves. JWR
Copping a feel takes on a decidedly new meaning
In 1957 Brighton, the love that dare not speak its name comes into play when museum curator Patrick (David Dawson readily beguiles) meets a local bobby, Tom (played at first with a model of innocence by Harry Styles) professionally at first but after a celebratory drink or two end up under the sheets. No one must know or Tom will be sacked.
Soon, Tom meets local school marm Marion (Emma Corrin is especially convincing in the courtroom scene), introduces her to Patrick and the trio becomes fast friends. Then before you can say “beard”, Tom proposes to Marion, who readily accepts, yet the two men surreptitiously continue their tryst.
Inevitably, Marion discovers the truth, with sad consequences for all.
40 years later, the three are reunited as Marion (now the stoic Gina McKee), becomes caregiver to Patrick (Rupert Everett in fine form) even as Tom (Linus Roache is properly bewildered with the revelations to come) fumes at this unexpected turn of events.
The film has many heartfelt moments, yet some of the plot points are too readily deduced (notably, the finally admitted duplicity). Grandage brings the writers’ (book: Bethan Roberts; screenplay: Ron Nyswaner) vision to vivid, if tragic life.
In the manner of Oscar Wilde, it’s a cautionary tale of then and now, where honesty is unwelcome, even though the truth will always out. JWR
A dark study of racism
How appropriate to put racism under the microscope in Ancaster (an upscale university in New England) set in the present day.
The newly appointed Black master—a first (Regina Hall as the artfully named Gail Bishop) begins to realize that nothing is really what it seems—especially in room 302. Its two inhabitants (spoiled white girl Amelia—Talia Ryder; Black freshman, in more ways than one Jasmine—Zoe Renee) start off well, but soon fall out when Amelia’s beau is caught sneaking a kiss from Jasmine.
From there it’s a series of nightmares, ghosts, past hangings, maggots and deadly repercussions from a grade dispute risking tenure…
In the end, nobody wins, but isn’t that the legacy of hateful actions based on colour of skin rather than getting to know the real person beneath it? JWR