MISLEADING & POTENTIALLY TRAUMATIC
In an effort to help prospective viewers make an informed choice, this review contains details that might be considered to be spoilers.
PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW:
This is primarily intended to be informative for those considering watching this movie who (like me) are more sensitive, and sometimes experience significant adverse effects from viewing graphic violence, particularly in an unexpected context. That said, I acknowledge that we are just one end of the audience spectrum.
If, on the other hand, you have no qualms with the graphic violence in films such as “Hostel,” “The Human Centipede II,” “Ichi the Killer,” “I Spit on Your Grave,” etc., then this review probably contains nothing you’ll consider worth your time, and instead will likely strike you as the whinings of a cinematic wimp. Possibly the only reason you might want to read on (and even this would be a stretch) is if you’re closely connected to someone like those of us in the first camp, and you want to try to understand them better.
But most of you are likely in-between these polar opposite positions. So for you, the usefulness of this review will be determined as you read it
After many years of film watching, many of us will have at least one experience of viewing something we wish we hadn’t. With age and experience, we become better at detecting such films in advance to prevent subjecting ourselves to the negative impact they would otherwise have upon us.
Viewers of course have different levels of sensitivity and tolerance for what might be considered disturbing content. But thankfully for more sensitive viewers, films with this type of content (such as most movies about slavery, war, professional killers, or fictional horror) are generally at least somewhat upfront about their nature, so we can make informed choices.
But even sensitive viewers who are quite knowledgeable and experienced might be caught off guard by “The Banshees of Inisherin.“
Many critics and some viewers praise this film because it is finely crafted in almost every way: acting, dialogue, storytelling, score, cinematography, and more. Also, some appear to see it as a type of anti-war allegory (although rather specific to the context of the Irish civil wars).
But if you skim through the reviews of us regular viewers, you can quickly see that most of us have negative criticisms of this movie. And it’s not because we take issue with the quality of the filmmaking. Conversely, it’s because of it being so artfully-made that it’s such a, well… disappointment, at best… but for more of us, a deceptively dreadful and brutal sucker-punch adding up to a profoundly regrettable experience.
While the synopsis does mention the potential of violent self-harm, the tone of the trailer -- and most of the first two thirds of the film -- is that of a nuanced and somewhat comedic character study of two long-time friends having a falling out.
And even when the Brendan Gleeson character finally follows through with his threat and cuts off one of his fingers, the film’s tone up to that point suggests that this could be a turning point with some kind of redemption or reconciliation. But whatever good faith has been built up thus far only deepens the sense of betrayal caused by what follows.
By the time he proceeds to chop off all his fingers from one hand, hurl them against the front door of the Colin Farrell character (resulting in, among other things, a beloved donkey choking to death from trying to eat one of the severed fingers), and parade his bloody stumps in the foreground of subsequent scenes, many of us will be brutalized -- or even traumatized -- by the sudden graphically violent content and the shocking shift in tone. And as ridiculous as the events I’ve described above might sound, these scenes are in no way portrayed as comedic, but are instead soberly and repulsively realistic.
And from there, it gets worse.
The bottom line is that the film presents itself as quirky but humorous entertainment well into the second half until it quickly becomes profoundly grim, violent, gory, and hopeless. Those responsible might believe that the end (an anti-war statement?) justifies the means, but I wrote this review because I felt compelled to warn more sensitive viewers about the misleading and potentially traumatizing nature of this film.