The other day — being trapped inside by the weather —I watched the movie The Banshees of Inisherin. I’d tried to watch it once before because I like banshees. Especially Irish banshees. However I didn’t get very far because, as I’ve mentioned, I generally watch movies while I’m doing something else and if the characters in the movie are speaking in another language, say an Irish Brogue that’s thicker than mashed potatoes, I can’t always keep up and I drift onto something else.
But I’ve had at least two people tell me it’s a good flick and so I gave it another go.
First off: It’s not an easy movie to watch. Two men who have presumably known each other for a long time are at a crossroads. One of them is a fiddler who lives in a seaside cottage with his dog. The other (a younger man) lives up the hill from him with his sister and various farm animals. In the beginning of the movie, the fiddler has had an epiphany. The younger man is taking up time he needs to write the tune that is going to make him immortal.
I won’t tell you what happens in case you haven’t seen the movie but the story reminded me of Mrs. Gilfoyle, a lady who lived across the street from us when I was in second grade with her husband, Professor Gilfoyle, a colleague of my father’s. They had no children and so Mrs. Gilfoyle loved for me to come over and play dress up with her. She’d watch from her living room window as I arrived home and then would run over to fetch me. My mother had two toddlers and so was more than happy to loan me out. We’d generally “play” in the Gilfoyle’s basement where there were several trunks full of vintage clothes, shoes, and jewelry — including several tiaras which Mrs. Gilfoyle liked to wear on her “princess days.”
Every weekend Mrs. Gilfoyle baked all her neighbors a pie. Generally an apple pie. And every weekend the neighbors all said thank you very much and ate their pies. None of them had the heart to tell her that she needed to bake the pies for a whole lot longer than she did. They were raw and doughy and the apples were from a struggling tree in her backyard (orchards don’t fare well in the high desert where we lived).
In the third grade we moved to a house a couple of miles away and thereafter saw the Gilfoyles very rarely. I’m sure that made my parents very happy. Mrs. Gilfoyle was a six year old in a middle aged body and it was kind of creepy that she was married to a man with a PhD. No one said anything, of course, because in those days you just didn’t. But we all wondered.
Most of us are raised to put up with the Mrs. Gilfoyles of the world, aren’t we? Even though we may have better things to do on a weekend than gag down their raw pie dough and listen to their childish prattle, we do so anyway. However, should the artist be expected to participate in such social niceties or does art demand that he reject them? That was my take away. Of course, I may have completely misunderstood the movie! If you know the producers, don’t tell them that their movie reminded me of Mrs. Gilfoyle’s awful pies. I don’t want certain bloody objects thrown against my door.