it is with a heavy heart that i enter the metaphorical and thematically-appropriate confessional booth and atone for my sin - i have indulged in enjoying a Boring Movie For Grown-Ups.

my tastes in film definitely tend to skew towards pieces that have a distinct, unsubtle style to them. i like high concepts and keen attention to visual language, whether it's the simmering class war tension of Parasite, the cabin fever nightmares of The Lighthouse, or, in what is still currently my favorite movie of 2022, the genre-bending yet heartfelt ADHD metaphor of Everything Everywhere All at Once. that isn't to say i don't value subtle character work; all three of these movies have it in spades, but they also all take that refined dialogue and performance and filter it through the heightened melodrama that well-done genre filmmaking allows.

The Banshees of Inisherin, then, on its surface, seems to be the type of movie i would bounce off of. i don't tend to like movies about older men sitting around doing a lot of talking, and i don't like movies that overindulge in long shots of nature to imply visual gravitas rather than finding that kind of beauty in the staging of its human subjects.

somehow, though, it all comes together, or at least, i would say it mostly does. Banshees follows the story of two men, Pádraic and Colm, living in a small community off the coast of Ireland. the two have been good friends for years, but one day, Colm simply... stops liking Pádraic. it's made clear quickly that this isn't a messy falling out. Pádraic has done nothing wrong, and nothing's really changed in his life. Colm simply doesn't want to be around Pádraic anymore.

what follows is essentially the complete unraveling of Pádraic's life, and a fascinating exploration of the difficult nature of being kind. Colm does play his part in the escalation of this low-key feud, threatening to chop his own fingers off if Pádraic keeps attempting to poke and prod at what's gone wrong in their friendship, but so much of the driving tension in this film boils down to the fact that Pádraic cannot wrap his head around what's happened, and it is in his nature to continue digging even at the cost of making things even worse.

it is, on the one hand, the lowest stakes i can imagine a mystery having, because all that's happened is one man deciding to calmly yet firmly break off a friendship. where the film shines, in my opinion, is demonstrating how that loops back around to unfathomably high stakes for Pádraic. quite smartly, at least in my opinion, the story avoids ever showing you what the two's routine looked like before Colm decides to cut Pádraic off - some reviews i've read talk about how the two were once as close as brothers, but the film never comes right out and says that. my takeaway was honestly pretty much the opposite, that the two had a rather buttoned-up routine, sitting in stoic silence at the local pub and talking about the meandering nature of their day-to-day life. The Banshees of Inisherin is not, in the strictest sense, a story about toxic masculinity, but it's very much informed by it, by stern men and the expectation that they ought to keep their friendships at arms' length.

so, then, the friction that drives the plot is that Pádraic cares too damn much to be that type of man. it doesn't matter that he and Colm sit around doing practically nothing, drinking and talking about his livestock and dismissing the nearby Irish Civil War as some mainland nonsense they don't need to concern themselves over. those conversations still matter to him, as a part of the fabric of his life. my read on the situation as a viewer might be that it's a shallow bond, but Pádraic, the character, cares deeply about his friendship, and simply can't live with the idea that it's somehow ending.