Martin McDonagh has returned to the Venice International Film Festival with “The Banshees of Inisherin,” which had its world premiere Monday night in competition.
It’s his first film since “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and a reunion with his “In Bruges” stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
Farrell on Monday said that he and McDonagh have talked about working together again, and they have a “mature agreement” where they’ll accept if the other wants to pass.
And yet, Farrell said, he also can't imagine “ever passing on anything (McDonagh) writes because he’s such an extraordinary writer and I’m always so deeply moved emotionally and psychologically by the worlds he creates and the characters that he designs.”
The film is set in 1923 on a remote island off Ireland’s west coast. It tells a story about longtime friends Padraic (Farrell) and Colm (Gleeson) at a fraught moment when Colm suddenly decides to end the relationship. He’s decided that Padraic is dull, and Padraic, in turn, is shattered.
“It’s hard to ghost someone on an island,” Farrell laughed. His character, he said, is the “human manifestation of a little donkey.”
Kerry Condon plays Padraic’s sister Siobhan and Barry Keoghan is the tormented young Dominic, who try to help Padraic mend things.
“He has an innocence where he can’t comprehend why his friend of so many years has cut him out,” Farrell said. “It shakes him to his core ... He lives in a beautiful life and that beauty is taken away by Brendan’s Colm.”
Gleeson liked how the film examined male friendship in a different way. But, he said, despite the time that it’s set in, it is a “modern film” in how it presents these two friends.
“The way the idea that these men would talk to each other in a natural way about feelings is debatable if it would transpire at that point,” Gleeson said.
The film also marks McDonagh’s first production in Ireland, which he said was “a dream of mine.” They shot mostly in Inishmore, where his father was from. And before production started, they had several weeks of rehearsals in Galway. Farrell said it “felt so beautiful to be back where Martin’s plays had been performed.”
Venice is a bit of a good luck charm for McDonagh, who in 2017 received the festival’s top screenwriting prize for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which would go on to be a box office smash, get him a best picture and screenplay nomination at the Oscars and win two acting Oscars for Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell.
“The Banshees of Inisherin” is competing for the Golden Lion and other top awards this year, against films like Todd Field’s “TÁR” and Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” before it opens in theaters on October 21.
The 79th edition of the Venice Film Festival runs through September 10.
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