They spend around two-thirds of the film in an inverted ‘V’, indicating bafflement leading to anxiety leading to total incomprehension. Why has Padraic’s pub friend suddenly turned against him? If it’s nothing he has done, then what is going on? Why does his friend suddenly think his own legacy (as a not-particularly-distinguished writer of songs) more important than their friendship?
When Farrell’s/Padraic’s eyebrows go from the upside-down V to a hard straight line it signals a distinct change in direction from pathetic loser to arch avenger. It is of credit to the actor and his director-screenwriter (Martin McDonagh) that Padraic turns out not to be quite such the hapless victim he first appears. But most of the plaudits belong to the eyebrows. They alone are worth an Oscar.
Brendon Gleeson on the other hand, whose eyebrows are fairly noncommittal, has an uncanny talent for making the fierce, apparently stone-hearted Colm – pronounced ‘Collum’ in the fillum – not just believable but (almost) sympathetic, if not empathetic.
It’s a masterly dissection of male friendship, brilliantly written and performed, that resonates deep and wide, even if does present these 1920s Irish characters as marginally stereotypical ‘Irish’, with their quaint manners of speech – ‘You’ll be off to the pub now, isn’t it?’ (not a direct quote) – and their endearing Irish manners. But that’s Martin McDonagh for you.
I would love to know what a true Irish person thinks of the film.
Oh, and the film is called The Banshees of Inisherin. I really recommend it, and not just for Colin Farrell’s eyebrows.