Colin Farrell on his 'painful, violent' new Irish film

·3-min read

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.

Set on a remote Irish island during the civil war of the 1920s, 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) who is distracting him from making music.

"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."

- Horse and cart -

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 Inishmore 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!"

- 'Suppressed rage' -

The movie got 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 year by Time.

McDonagh, whose "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" won Best Screenplay in Venice five years ago, is known for kicking against cinematic cliches.

"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 cliches -- 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."

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