The Banshees of Inisherin

The Banshees of Inisherin ★★★½

• This has a really good screenplay.

• As is customary in McDonagh's collaborations with Ben Davis, this is actively shabby-looking; unfortunately, unlike Three Billboards, Banshees has a screenplay that's actually worth saving, so this one actually hurts. It's not a visual failure in an Iñárritu sort of way, either: there's no ambitious-as-all-get-out concept that explodes on the launchpad or anything of the sort. No, this is that mundane type of crappiness wherein every moment is characterised by a sort of anything-goes carelessness.

• Davis's idea of 'naturalism' seems to be something along the lines of "use a single strong kicker and the least amount of fill light possible, and then sweat extremely hard with the midtone slider in post so we can see faces" except when he decides to blast people with absurd amounts of hard fill around 10% of the time. Or when replacing skies with beautiful cloud formations that match the lighting of the foreground plate not one iota.

Anyhoo: minimalistic (or, if one is so inclined, "naturalistic") lighting generally works if the compositions are designed around the limitations imposed by such a gesture. Careful curation of character placement in depth, production design, and camera placement. None of that is present here.

• We need a complete a total shutdown of 3-axis gimbal shots in narrative cinema until we figure out what's going on or something, because the idea that intercutting between static tripod, handheld, and the jankiest 3-axis gimbal shake that you ever saw such as occurs in this film on numerous occasions is remotely acceptable is absurd on its face.

• This could be, and pretty much is, a litany of disconnected cinematographic gripes that don't really add up to much of anything: the basic issue here, and this is not uncommon, is that the visual scheme of this film has not one tenth of the thought or care put into it as the script has. The notion that a great script gives one license to present it using the most rudimentary possible tools applied in the clumsiest ways makes about as much sense as the argument that, if one were to write a sufficiently great piece of music, one need only hire an orchestra of rank amateurs to do it justice. It's nonsense.

(why is this in scope)

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