As this is a McDonagh work, it is a comedy of despair as well as exasperation. It begins with a beautiful overhead shot of the titular island of Ireland, all green under a clear blue sky (in this shot it only rains at night, which, given the actual weather patterns in Ireland, places the film in yet another genre, fantasy). That Carter Burwell The score evokes idyllic times, and we see that life is quite easy for Pádraic (Farrell), a dairy farmer who lives with his sister in a modest cottage and apparently calls his old friend Colm (Gleeson) almost every day at two o’clock. Before setting out, he makes a remark about Colm to his sister Siobhán (Kerry Condon), who sarcastically replies, “Maybe he just doesn’t like you anymore.”
This turns out to be a somewhat unintended prophecy. Because Colm rejects Pádraic. Over the course of several discussions, we learn that Colm has come to find Pádraic boring (and the serious guy’s conversation is actually limited, if kind), and that he believes he has better things to do with his time, like composing songs of his time. violin. When Colm goes to confession in the island’s church, he reveals that he too suffers from despair. He suffers from quite a bit more than that.
“Banshees” is set in 1923, and several times its characters discuss hearing guns going off on the not-too-distant mainland. The conflict between Colm and Pádraic serves as a convenient metaphor for the Irish Civil War at the time, but the film works best when it doesn’t foreground this metaphor. Which gets pretty creepy, as a commentary on a particularly Irish kind of obstreperousness. As in: Colm tells Pádraic that if the latter continues to talk to Colm, or at Colm after Colm has made it clear that he does not want Pádraic’s company or conversation, Colm will cut off one of his fingers. Now bear in mind that Colm is a fiddler who wants to keep tinkering, so this is actually, as a strategy, a sight worse than cutting off a nose to defy his face.
And then, after Pádraic gets in Colm’s face again, Colm actually does. One of the film’s cleverest tricks is how McDonagh makes the viewer identify early on more with Colm than with Pádraic. One feels: yes, it’s a rude interruption of friendship on Colm’s part, but why can’t Pádraic just leave the guy alone? Some of Colm’s points are well taken. Colm is probably better for Pádraic than Dominic, the extremely rude policeman’s son who makes Pádraic look like an urban conversationalist, but sometimes those are the breaks when it comes to social life. But when the fingers start coming off, your jaw drops and your eyes pop. Where will this end?