directors, Film Spotlight, movies, photography

Banshees of Inisherin & Ruby

Walking gets me thinking, and I contemplated Martin McDonagh‘s film up for this year’s Oscars. I’ll bet the Irish board of tourism thanks McDonagh for his beautiful film showing the very best of Irishness. Too stereotypical? No one seems to be complaining. I know after watching Belfast, I had no desire to go there. But I’d pack my bags to stay for a spell in western Ireland. Though McDonagh’s film was nominated for plenty, I was shocked it was not for the Best Cinematography category. Here is why:

Blue Ridge Parkway, Peaks of Otter lake. Love the off-season. Ruby can run around all she likes.

I know, I know. Just because a film’s location is pretty, it does not mean the cinematography is great. But the themes of loneliness and despair, central to Pádraic and Colm’s personalities, are manifestations of their surroundings. From the opening/ending shot of the heavenly clouds and ray beams to the stone, patchwork fields to the birds, animals, pets, and Celtic statues, to the varying weather patterns of light and dark and rain–every scene embraces its natural environment. Inside this mystical bubble are the people to which the environment dictates. Not just the main characters. The bizarre ensemble represents the ancient marriage of folklore and tradition. They are a part of their environment as a single organism. This striking film is magical because of the cinematography.

Ruby is giddy to take her first swim of the year.

Another aspect I loved are the women in the movie. Not much has been said about them, but I find their presence more interesting than the relationship between Pádraic and Colm. The women observe their male counterparts like teachers in a schoolyard of pouty, manipulative, bully boys. Their exasperation is understandable. The success of the movie is the sister of Pádraic played by Kerry Condon. She is the only character who understands if she stays on the island she will disintegrate and dares to leave. The nosy shopkeeper vies for gossip–anything to keep boredom away–for what else is there? My favorite character in the movie is the banshee herself, the ghoulish witch whose omnipresence provides the heathen wisdom on the island predicting accurately the events. A death indeed. Poor, Jenny.

Clear and cold, she couldn’t care less. Throwing sticks for her to fetch is her favorite game.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Collin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. Their chemistry as a comedic duo is reminiscent of a bygone era when laughs came from their banter and facial expressions, including bushy eyebrows. Laurel and Hardy come to mind.

The silly girl is obsessed with rolling on her back wherever we go. I think it’s the grass. She couldn’t do this in Arizona.

What did you think of the quirky plot twist with Colm’s way of solving the problem of his chatty friend? Did it ruin it for you? Or were you entranced with the story like me? What becomes of Colm? Do you think they become roommates?

53 thoughts on “Banshees of Inisherin & Ruby”

    1. To be honest, the movie ended when he crawled out of his shitty situation (literarly) and was reborn standing in the rain. I wonder if the denoument was necessary. But to the last scene, sure, I loved the ocean beach and the boat and the far shot of their reunion. Did you?

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      1. Yes, the movie did end when Andy, yes, literally and triumphantly, crawled out of the sewage, and I love how you said “was reborn standing in the rain.”

        I hear what you’re saying about that very last scene, that neat, happy(ier) ending, and I see a couple of reasons why they did that. One might wonder, after so many years of being each other’s support, why Andy didn’t include Red in his escape plan. That might taint the ending, of leaving a friend behind? It makes it seem like he didn’t, he was waiting for him, so Red had a future (unlike others who left after too long…)? What do you think?


        1. Why not share the escape plan? Oh, I think it fits Andy’s personality perfectly. He would not want to implicate Red. Also, a secret stays a secret only if it is NOT shared. It made the ending a surprise. I wonder that Red would have the gumption to dare to go since he was institutionalized. But, he did it. And I love happy endings. 🙂

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  1. Great post Cindy, yeah the cinematography is just gorgeous. It was one of my favorite aspects as well as Kerry Condon as Siobhán. The way she presented herself as one of the only level-headed people on the island was affecting. I also was really moved by Barry Keoghan as Dominic, arguably the most tragic character of all.

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    1. Welcome back, Tom. Glad to hear from you. Ohh, I preferred Barry Keoghan’s performance more than Brendan G. I don’t know if Keoghan will beat him at the Oscars, but what a heart-wrenching performance–especially the proposal scene at the water’s edge. He is a universal character, yes? Haven’t we all known someone like him? So obnoxious you feel justified berating. Since he was the “dim one” on the island that Pádraic compared himself, I loved it when Dominic had his wise moments with a smart word here and there. Add to his devil-may-care acceptance of his father and his barren life on the island–I thought he was a fine, authentic character. But the proposol scene. I actually loved him at that moment.

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      1. . . . which I think really speaks to how good that performance is. Yeah when he stays over that night with Padraic and Siobhan he is absolutely grating, you want to shake him to his senses and just be grateful for the night away from your terrible father! But then the proposal scene, yeah that just gutted me.


  2. Great post as always Cindy. Banshees was a film close to me as I am Irish (though part of the diaspora now) and I really really liked it. It throws up so much talking points about Ireland’s history, about friendship, about life, about cruelty, about culture. McDonagh has an interesting view on Ireland, not unlike my own – intrigue, anger, love, confusion all come to mind. The sister character was my favourite too, but mostly because she imbued reason and sense where everyone else didn’t. A great film speaks on many levels and i think this was one of them.

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    1. A film that seems unassuming and irrelevant. But it seeps into you. Imagine your only friend and your only family and your only pet abandoning you. I truly felt for Padric. Imagine waking up and realizing your medicore and dull when you thought you were a contribution to the day? Ouch!


      1. Just finished seeing it. I really liked the scenary, the acting by all and the story was intriguing, but contained a very ambiguos ending. My interpretation is the movie is a pagan story. If the writer / director aimed for the audience to find a correct meaning then I would class it more as a gnostic fable. I enjoyed Tar more, but overall I liked it a lot – not the ending so much. Colin Farrell and the Policeman’s son were standouts for mine in the acting department.


          1. It was due to your posts that I found the motivation. So thank you. I lost interest in movies since the Pandemic, but these 2 were wonderfully made and have rekindled my love of movies.


          2. I have been watching so many movies this week. It’s been super! I hope to keep it up. I imagine Tar or Banshees would be favourite for Oscars although the Asian movie ‘Everything…’ seems also a frontrunner. I loved Top Gun. I was very disappointed in Spielberg’s Fabelmans’. Anyway, we’ll see what happens.

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  3. Cindy, you’re review convinced me that I would like to see this movie. I see where Tar and Banshees monopolized the awards at London Circle. Green seems to be a common link. Green for jealousy motivation in the first. Green for gorgeous scenery in the second. Also sounds like gold is in their Oscar future.


    1. Ha! Love your color scheme. I haven’t seen all the nominiees; hoping to catch Fiennes performance today. For Banshees, you will either scratch your head puzzled or find the delight of the scenery and characterizations worth your time. xo

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      1. There are many series I watch on Brit Box and Acorn that have the wonderful scenery of both UK islands. And also have fine acting and weird characters. And thanks to CC I can understand what they are saying. I think I would enjoy the film, but only with the help of CC.

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      1. It always seems such a wonderful idea to be remote and isolated but think the reality would be very very different. So many island communities struggled at the beginning of the twentieth century. I know I certainly couldn’t do it. Orkney is great for the time we go but I’m always glad to get back to the mainland!


  4. Awww Ruby is too adorable!!

    The visuals for Banshees are so stunning, glad to see another part of Ireland not usually portrayed in the movies. Btw it’s Kerry, not Kary, Condon 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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