Colin Farrell's new film, starring alongside old friend Brendan Gleeson, takes the pitch-black humour of their much-loved In Bruges to even darker, stranger places.
The Banshees of Inisherin, which won gushing reviews as it premiered in competition at the Venice Film Festival on Monday, reunites Farrell and Gleeson with writer-director Martin McDonagh following their 2008 gangster comedy.
Irish stars Kerry Condon, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson and writer-director Martin McDonagh have received a 15-minute standing ovation at the Venice International Film Festival world premiere of The Banshees of Inisherin | Read more: https://t.co/FvhqnkpwVO pic.twitter.com/2pJJgwbfBF— Entertainment on RTÉ (@RTE_Ents) September 6, 2022
Set on a remote Irish island during the Civil War, it is a macabre tale of an ageing man (Gleeson) who one day decides he cannot waste any more time with his younger friend (Farrell).
"It was both very familiar and completely singular," Farrell told AFP.
"In Bruges was a friendship being built between this odd couple. This is the opposite... such a painful, violent dissolving of a friendship."
Good friends in real life, the two actors were unsure if they should keep apart during the filming.
"We cleared it at the start - do we need to keep a distance? But it wasn't like that," Gleeson told AFP.
Still, the tension does "bleed into the way you are," he added. "We were both conscious that would happen and we gave each other enough space."
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The film raises the debate of whether artists need to isolate themselves to get work done.
Gleeson said: "It took me a while to understand the need for a bloody trailer (on film sets), to get the hell away from everybody - the amount of energy being expanded just chatting to people, being nice to them..."
Filming on the beautiful island of Inis Mór certainly helped in that respect.
"The island gave us life. The distance (the people) gave us was astonishing," said Farrell.
But Gleeson interjected to remind him about a group of tourists who followed him on a horse and cart.
"He went for a run and tried to out-run it, but no," he said as both broke out laughing. "You had a great conversation with the horse - you were neck-and-neck!"
The movie received strong reviews across the board following its premiere on Monday, with Variety calling it McDonagh's "richest, most moving film" and Farrell's performance praised as one of the best of the year by Time.
McDonagh, whose Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won Best Screenplay in Venice five years ago, is known for kicking against cinematic clichés.
"It's so easy not to follow the usual tropes, not to be boring," he told AFP.
"As long as the characters are truthful... you can go from an odd starting place to odd places, and still have it be an exciting, funny, dark story.
"But definitely, I always kick against clichés - I'm never going to be making a Marvel film," he added.
The Civil War is only briefly mentioned but serves as a fitting backdrop to the events on the island.
"It's a sad reflection of exactly what was going on in the Civil War where brothers were fighting each other," said Kerry Condon, who plays Farrell's sister.
"But Martin's humour comes in with the fact that the people on the island don't care too much about the war."
Her character's exasperation with the self-important men and their arguments is something Condon could understand.
"Of course, it's something I could relate to!" she said, laughing.
"And the suppressed rage. Though I don't suppress my rage."
The Banshees of Inisherin, which also stars Barry Keoghan, opens in Irish cinemas on Friday 21 October.