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  • Writer's pictureEugene

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

A rather dark and troubling film from writer and director Martin McDonough. We had made the decision to use subtitles. Most of us who weren’t 100% certain felt comfortable with this by the end. We welcomed some new faces to the discussion group and we were also helped by having some members with Irish roots who knew one of the locations, Achill Island, very well.

We found The Banshees of Inisherin a disturbing film, although the setting was beautiful and the acting very fine. For one member of the group, it wasn’t a comedy at all, but a horror film. The themes of loss and painful sacrifice were traumatising. There were issues around stereotyping – ‘the village idiot’ for example. The language used felt brutal and didn’t feel real to the members of our group with an Irish background.

We spoke for some time, helped by our group experts, about the experience of living on a small community on a west coast Irish island. They felt that the people in real life, peat cutters, worked incredibly hard. This wasn’t reflected in the film.

It is the message of the film that is intriguing. Is it a symbolic fable? Is it really about the Civil War? Is it just about being kind? Points were obviously made in the film about the sudden realisation about life’s meaning and despair about not making an impact on the world.

In conclusion, yes, we admired the film. However, we weren’t sure we understood it or enjoyed it in the conventional sense. We could understand the path of hope taken by Siobhán Súilleabháin (played by Kerry Condon), a mirror image of her stuck brother, as she leaves the island for the mainland, wearing yellow.

Anne Goldstein.

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