Thoughtful exterior, vapid soul. A gorgeous-looking film that fails to deliver any substantive meaning or motivation behind anything that occurs in this ominous snoozefest. The Banshees of Inisherin is another 2020s cinema example of what happens when filmmakers fail to follow screenwriting conventions like a clearly defined external goal for the central character, supported by an internal need or motivation, and clearly defined opposition to the external goal. Furthermore, “a [day] in the life of…” is neither a plot nor a goal. The first act of the film holds hostage nearly half the screentime. And when something finally happens, the motivation behind it lacks any logic or rational reasoning. The outside/action story is nearly non-existent. Filmmakers should remember that a film can have depth, dimension, and deeper meaning BUT those layers should never take the place of a clearly defined linear or nonlinear plot map. Diegetic accessibility is important, even in more thoughtful films. Undoubtedly, this will become one of those films that pretentious cinephiles defend by the cliche “you just didn’t get it.” While the film looks gorgeous and the attempt to parallel the civil war between two (former) friends to the real-world Irish Civil War of the 1920s is intriguing, writer-director Martin McDonagh struggles to establish a plot to support the story he wants to tell. None of the characters are likable nor are the performances exceptional. Extreme/manic behavior does not a compelling character make. In many ways, this film reminds me of a more coherent The Lighthouse. So, if you enjoyed The Lighthouse, then you may enjoy this movie. The Banshees of Inisherin feels like a vanity project that means something to the filmmaker, but holds little value or meaning for the audience. Contrary to the accolade associated with this film, it is one of the most boring break-up movies ever made.
Ryan teaches Film Studies and Screenwriting at the University of Tampa and is a member of the Critics Association of Central Florida. If you like this article, check out the others and FOLLOW this blog! Interested in Ryan making a guest appearance on your podcast or contributing to your website? Send him a DM on Twitter. If you’re ever in Tampa or Orlando, feel free to catch a movie with him.
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