Colin Farrell Deserves All Of The Awards For His Performance In ‘The Banshees Of Inisherin’

The Banshees of Inisherin is an unusual movie. Martin McDonagh’s extremely Irish film documents the sudden dissolution of a long friendship. Colin Farrell plays Pádraic, a man living on a small island off the coast of Ireland in 1923. He’s a simple man. He loves animals, especially his donkey, Jenny. Every day he goes to the pub with his best friend Colm, played by Brendan Gleeson. One day, Colm decides that he doesn’t want to be friends with Pádraic anymore. Pádraic can’t take the hint and spends the entire film trying to win his BFF back. The consequences are dire: every time Pádraic talks to Colm, Colm chops off one of his own fingers.

Farrell’s performance as the hurt, rather dense Irishman is a career-best. It’s subtle but resonant. His eyebrows have never been more expressive, but the rest of the performance is quiet and personal. It’s difficult to visually represent the pain over losing a friend, but Farrell captures an overall heaviness both in mind and body with his innocent doe eyes, an insecure slouch, and the weighty urgency of someone in a crisis. Farrell works brilliantly with Gleeson to make both men’s challenging perspectives make sense.

But Farrell’s greatest challenge in Banshees is his greatest accomplishment as an actor in his decades-long career: Pádraic is completely ordinary but also completely compelling. This is the essential element to Farrell’s performance: the audience has to understand Colm’s perspective but empathize with Pádraic, which requires endless layers of awareness, making every blink, word, and step essential. If Farrell’s performance had been a little too sweet, the film wouldn’t work. If his performance had emphasized Pádraic’s dullness just a bit more, it wouldn’t work, either. Farrell strikes an impossible, invisible balance. On top of all that, Farrell, within seconds of screentime, establishes an emotional bond with a donkey that leads to one of the most gut-wrenching moments in modern cinema, even though the concept of a donkey dying because it choked on the finger of a man who was chopping off his fingers because he didn’t want to be friends with someone anymore is violently funny.

Banshees arrived just months after Farrell’s transformative performance as the Penguin in The Batman, which came out in March 2022 (feels like it came out two weeks ago or twenty years ago now, though). Farrell has a singular edge to him, both in his performance style and personal life (a favorite pastime of mine is browsing photos of him going on runs where he somehow captures this vibe perfectly). This bad boy-but-soft quality is evident in his best and worst performances in films like In Bruges (best), Daredevil (worst but still iconic), Minority Report (best), and True Detective season 2 (worst, and I bet you forgot about it). Behind pounds of unnecessary prosthetics as the Penguin, Farrell’s edge still shines, adding a new layer to the mobster caricature. The performance, undoubtedly more inspired by Mario the plumber than Chris Pratt’s voice performance as Mario the plumber in the upcoming Super Mario Brothers animated film, proved Farrell’s range stretches far beyond what anyone could imagine, probably even Farrell himself.

While Banshees is more of a return to form for Farrell, it is his most in-depth, personal work: a culmination of his personality, performance style, and decades-long career that has, at times, floundered. The Best Actor race this awards season is more competitive: almost anyone in the conversation from Austin Butler in Elvis to Bill Nighy in Living has a chance, and anyone could easily make an argument for them to win, kind of like how there are compelling arguments for both Pádraic and Colm. But please, personally I am begging every awards voter to vote Farrell for his touching, sensitive performance in Banshees of Inisherin, which is a lot more than it appears on the surface, not to mention the fact that he’s one of modern Hollywood’s great gentlemen.