At the intersection of the caustically hilarious and the deeply tragic, you’ll find the work of Martin McDonagh. The director of In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri makes films that are as heart-wrenching as they are side-splitting – and he’s tapping further into that bittersweet vein for his upcoming The Banshees Of Inisherin. Set on a rural island in the 1920s, it stars Colin Farrell as Pádraic and Brendan Gleeson as Colm, a pair of long-terms friends whose bond suddenly comes to an end when Colm abruptly cuts all ties with Pádraic for reasons he refuses to divulge.
It is, McDonagh says, basically a break-up story. “Put that on the poster!” he says. “Yeah, it’s one of those break-up albums, like [Bob Dylan’s] Blood On The Tracks or something – but with two guys who aren’t romantically involved.” The film explores the messiness and complicated feelings that arise when people who used to be close can no longer be in each other’s lives. “Which is part of the interesting hook for me,” explains McDonagh. “To capture the sadness on both sides of a break-up is at least the starting point of the story.”
For audiences, though, The Banshees Of Inisherin is something of a make-up film – one that reunites McDonagh with the leading duo of Farrell and Gleeson, who sparked so memorable in In Bruges. “The whole point of this, for me, was to get them back together,” says McDonagh. “Because they love each other so much. And they work together so well.” Bring on the breakdown.