Script Analysis: The Banshees of Inisherin

Posted: March 2, 2023  |  Updated: March 22, 2023

This story is part of our Oscars95 script analysis campaign: Why We Love It. Each story emphasizes a unique data insight involving the plot, the characters, or specific element of the story that contributed to its nomination for an Academy Award in the category of Best Picture or Best Original Screenplay. 

McDonagh’s Most Intimate Film Yet

Martin McDonagh’s films are no strangers to the Academy Awards — three of his four features have been nominated for Best Original Screenplay, including In Bruges (2008), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), and The Banshees of Inisherin (2022). Three Billboards and Banshees picked up a few other nominations along the way, including Best Picture. How does McDonagh’s most recent tragicomedy compare to his highly successful previous work and what makes Banshees so unique?

1. The Banshees of Inisherin is an Absurdist Comedy.

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McDonagh’s films are characteristically dark drama-comedies, but they have other accompanying comedic tones as well. For example, when we look at Three Billboards compared to other Drama films, it lands in the top 10% for Dry Humor, while In Bruges lands in the top 25% for Crude Humor. The Banshees of Inisherin is in the top 25% for Absurdism, making this comedic tone its signature.

2. The Banshees of Inisherin is Uniquely Unsettling, Disturbing, Thought-Provoking, and Eerie.

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Compared to other Drama films, The Banshees of Inisherin is in the top 10% for Unsettling, Disturbing, and Eerie; and in the top 25% for Thought-Provoking, Stressful, and Anxiety. These narrative tones speak to how masterfully McDonagh weaves the gripping and tenuous relationship between Padraic and Colm amongst the isolated, striking Irish atmosphere. Banshees is also McDonagh’s most Thought-Provoking film, reflecting the development of more intricate metaphors present in the 2022 feature.

3. The Banshees of Inisherin is McDonagh’s most Violent film.

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McDonagh doesn’t shy from violence, and often uses it as a starting point for conversations around the deeper and darker aspects of the human condition. In Banshees, violence is the inciting incident and takes center-stage as the conflict between the two friends careens out of control. More violent than Three Billboards and the Crime-Thriller In Bruges, Banshees is also more Violent than 75% of Drama films.

4. The Banshees of Inisherin is McDonagh’s most intimate and character-focused film.

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The Character Network is a visual map of characters’ interactions and centrality to the overall story. Centrality measures the percentage of shared interactions. The thickness of the lines represents the quantity of interactions. This visual representation is how audiences will perceive the relationships between the characters in a story.

Banshees has the least amount of total characters, along with the highest amount of character interconnectivity (Padraic has 93% centrality, which means he interacts with almost every other character in the film!), making it the most character-focused and intimate of McDonagh’s films. Additionally, Banshees contains several scenes of high emotional intensity throughout the film (particularly at the beginnings of Act 2, 3, and the very end) that culminates in an impactful, heart-rending ending.

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