The Banshees of Inisherin has just been released worldwide following some incredible praise on the festival circuit, and critics are calling it a hilarious non-romantic break-up movie. The film follows two best friends on a remote island just off the coast of Ireland, and one of the friends breaks up with the other for no explicable reason.
Written and directed by celebrated filmmaker Martin McDonagh, the film has his typical pitch-black sense of humor, and it sees him reunite with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Between Farrell getting harassed by a Donkey and being forced to live with his filthy co-stars, the making of the movie was almost like a dark comedy of its own.
In an interview for Kermode and Mayo’s Take, interviewer Simon Mayo reveals that the opening music isn’t Irish at all but Bulgarian. The song is sung by The Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir, and McDonagh explained that he had that song in mind when imagining the scene.
The filmmaker mentioned, “I knew the shots of Colin walking through this island was going to have that tune because I love it so much.” The song has absolutely nothing to do with Irish culture, something that most of the movie is steeped in, but it works with the scene so well. McDonagh also added, “I didn’t want the usual Irish fiddle music.”
Barry Keoghan is massively in demand in Hollywood right now, as he’s one of the few actors to star in both DC and MCU movies. The actor played Druig in Eternals, and he played the Joker in The Batman, and he’ll likely have a much larger role in The Batman 2. But despite all these huge blockbuster movies, Keoghan was quick to sign on to the low-budget Irish film, so quick that he didn’t even read the script.
The actor explained, “Anything that Martin McDonagh does, I’d sign up to it. When I got the email off him, it was just like, ‘I’m in, I’m in.’ He was like, ‘Do you want to read it?'” McDonagh has a short but impeccable resume, and as he’s known for his pitch-black dramadies; his scripts must be such fun material for actors to get their hands on.
The Banshees of Inisherin isn’t the first time McDonagh has worked with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, as the two starred in the filmmaker’s directorial debut In Bruges. The actors played an iconic on-screen criminal duo, as they’re hitmen who seek refuge in the Belgian city after a botched assassination.
The three clearly work so well together, and McDonagh must know that, given that he essentially wrote Banshees for Gleeson and Farrell (via AV Club). The writer-director mentioned, “One hundred percent. It was written for them. We always wanted to get back together in the last 14 years and remain friends, and we’d see each other every year.” McDonagh added that it wasn’t going to happen until he “stopped being lazy and sat down and got on with it.”
The new Irish movie is set on a small island just off the coast of Ireland, and given that McDonagh’s parents live in Galway, close to the boat visitors need to take to get there, it only made sense for the director to stay with his parents while shooting.
A lot of filmmakers like to stay quiet about a project until it’s completed, but McDonagh remained completely secretive whilst making the film, so much so that he didn’t even tell his mother or father about the project. According to The Guardian, the filmmaker joked, “Though I didn’t tell my parents what I’d been up to. I’ve learned not to because it usually ends up in some gross beheading or something.”
Actors are always quick to compliment their coworkers’ work, but Farrell took it a step further by singing the praises of a donkey he worked so closely with whilst filming Banshees. In the new movie, Farrell plays Pádraic, who has a pet donkey called Jenny, and the actor said of the animal, “It was her first film, but she acted like it was her 100th.”
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing, and Jenny even injured the actor. Farrell added, “She didn’t like her nose being touched, I found out. She kicked me in the knee. But that was my fault. I got too close to her.” But even then, he still blames himself.
Few U.S. audiences will have ever heard of Father Ted, an Irish sitcom about a family of priests, but it’s considered a classic overseas, as it is filled with hilariously vulgar profanity, and it similarly takes place on rural Irish land, too. It’s worth sorting out for any fan of crude comedies and is one of the best sitcoms like The Office.
And it was revealed that Father Ted actually has a bizarre connection to The Banshees of Inisherin. According to Yahoo, McDonagh explained that he cast two actors who were extras in the first season of Father Ted. The director revealed, “The guys who are in the pub — Pat Shortt and Jon Kenny — were both in the first season of Father Ted.”
Given that Banshees is about two best friends who break up, it seems like Farrell might want to take a page out of Colm’s (Gleeson) book following the movie getting wrapped. According to Irish Mirror, it wasn’t just a donkey that Farrell had problems with, but Keoghan too.
Farrell revealed he and Keoghan lived together while shooting the movie, and it wasn’t the most ideal living situation for him. Not only did Keoghan steal the Farrell’s cornflakes, but the actor commented, “He lived with me during the film and I’d come in, in the morning and the f***ing place would be like raccoons had been there. It was like somebody said, ‘okay, how can we p*** him off?'”
While McDonagh has made two great dark comedies since the inherently dark In Bruges, which were the hilarious Seven Psychopaths and the award-winning Three Billboards, McDonagh still felt the pressure of following up the cult classic with Banshees. Where those In Bruges follow-ups embraced American culture, in many ways, Banshees is a spiritual successor to the 2008 movie.
In that respect, it’s hardly surprising that McDonagh was worried. According to Deadline, the filmmaker was worried about the possibility of ruining that film’s legacy. McDonagh explained, “You don’t ever want to make something disappointing for the people that love that film.”
Phoebe Waller-Bridge has become a screenwriting and acting heavyweight in recent years, as she created the beloved comedy series Fleabag, and she’ll even be starring in the upcoming Indiana Jones 5. And before the 2022 movie entered production, according to The Hollywood Reporter, McDonagh showed the actress the screenplay.
While McDonagh is one of the best screenwriters of the 21st century, showing his work to one of his greatest peers could be daunting, especially as he happens to be dating Waller-Bridge. However, Waller-Bridge seemingly enjoyed it, as McDonagh recalled, “And she definitely liked this one, so that was quite good.”
In The Banshees of Inisherin, Kerry Condon plays Siobhán, Pádraic’s sister, and while she’s best known for playing F.R.I.D.A.Y. in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she had already worked with McDonagh before, but not on any movie. The actress starred in McDonagh’s plays when she was as young as 17.
Thanks to her history with the theater director turned screenwriter, she knew exactly what she was in for when it came to the pitch-black tone. According to Entertainment Weekly, Condon explained, “This film is quite like his plays, so it just felt like a little extension of that, and a natural progression for me as an actress. It felt a bit more mature and a little harder to play.”