When I was thinking about my favourite film of 2022, the thought process was challenging. I’d been to see The Batman three times in cinemas and absolutely love that movie, but when I wanted to think purely about my favourite film of 2022, the film that kept coming back to me was The Banshees of Inisherin, written and directed by Martin McDonagh.
The story of a man who becomes confused when his best friend stops being friends with him isn’t one that would seem to leap out as belonging to my favourite film of 2022, but somehow, McDonagh made it work, and then some. There’s a lot of stuff to dissect with this film, so I’m going to get right into The Banshees of Inisherin, five reasons why it’s amazing, and why it’s my favourite film of 2022.
1. The Characters
So much of my love for The Banshees of Inisherin comes from the characters. There’s Colin Farrell’s Pádraic, a very nice but boring (at least according to his former best friend) man and the suddenly grumpy Colm, played by Brendan Gleeson, who’s now obsessing over his music. There’s also Siobhan (Kerry Condon) and Dominic (Barry Keoghan), Pádraic’s sister, and also his other friend.
All of these characters are so dimensional, and McDonagh’s writing really brings them to life. From Pádraic’s interactions with his donkey Jenny, to Colm’s small tweaks with his violin, so much of what makes The Banshees of Inisherin my favourite film of 2022 comes down to the characters.
2. The Performances
Going hand-in-hand with the characters, the performances from the entire cast in The Banshees of Inisherin are phenomenal. Colin Farrell carries Pádraic’s struggle to let go wonderfully, managing to balance the character’s ‘boring’ aspects without ever being boring in his performance. Likewise, Brendan Gleeson plays Colm’s fear of death and desire to be remembered in a way that humanises him and doesn’t let him seem too selfish. Their scenes are electrifying, watching two fantastic actors giving their work 150%. That Colin Farrell also played The Penguin in the same year is pretty phenomenal.
Kerry Condon brings so much dimension to Siobhan, who would have seemed less interesting in the hands of a lesser actress, as does Barry Keoghan, who makes sure that Dominic’s ‘simplicity’ isn’t mistaken for stupidity. The scene where Dominic asks if Siobhan wouldn’t want to love him is gut-wrenching, and the performances draw you into the moment so much more than I expected. This scene alone is enough to make The Banshees of Inisherin my favourite film of 2022.
3. It’s haunting
Banshees are a fascinating cultural figure, their screams believed to foretell death. It’s very fitting, then, that The Banshees of Inisherin manages to be so completely haunting.
There’s a lingering sense of dread as the movie progresses as the relationship between Pádraic and Colm worsens, and Colm says that he’ll remove one of his fingers every time Pádraic speaks to him. The character of Mrs McCormick serves as a symbol of death, especially with her cryptic way of speaking, which has a foreboding tone. The Banshees of Inisherin manages to be haunting in such an effortless way, that it’s admirable for this.
4. It’s really funny
Whilst being a haunting drama, The Banshees of Inisherin is also really funny. Like his other works, such as In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, McDonagh manages both haunting scenes of drama, and moments of comedy that made everybody in my cinema screening laugh. My favourite film of 2022 being able to be funny and dramatic and sad is a difficult balancing act that can’t be found easily enough.
Scenes like Pádraic’s drunken rant at Colm are both dramatic and funny, something I wish I could manage to do myself, and probably never will. What McDonagh does fantastically is serve both comedy and drama without there being a sense of tonal whiplash or imbalance.
5. It’s layered as hell
Like an onion, I think that all great films have layers to them. Stanley Kubrick said that ‘the screen has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.’ One of the ways I view this is by seeing if I can rewatch a film and still be invested, and still find something new or notice a new element that I didn’t before. This is something that I found with The Banshees of Inisherin.
From its meditations on life, death, and mortality, to its exploration of the Irish Civil War, The Banshees of Inisherin has so much to say and show that I think it’s impossible to digest it all with one viewing. That I have seen it twice now and still know I have more to discover with The Banshees of Inisherin has been key to making it my favourite film of 2022,
There’s so much more I could say about The Banshees of Inisherin, but I’m not knowledgeable or awake enough to say them. It’s a truly amazing film, and I’m so glad I got to see it in cinemas.
What did you think of The Banshees of Inisherin? What was your favourite film of 2022? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,
p.s. I also mentioned McDonagh’s In Bruges in this post I wrote recently, about my favourite alternative Christmas movies (yes, I stand by this as being a thing).