A part of growing up is realizing you grow apart from people you thought were going to be with you forever. But just like that sweater you got ten years, it’s hard to let go of the rope holding you together. You tell yourself the friction burn is worth it because losing this “forever” person is going to hurt even more. And yes, society has books and songs, and films to help us through the melancholy of it all. However, these pieces mostly center on romantic fallouts, which is ironic, considering almost everyone has fallen out with a friend compared to the quota of romantic break-ups.
The critically acclaimed 2022 film The Banshees of Inisherin, however, comes close. The two main characters, Colm and Pádraic are best of friends from what we can deduce from the first couple of scenes. However, a day comes when Colm decides to end the friendship out of the blue, with no explanation whatsoever. That sharpness that comes with your friend snatching the rug from right under you cuts too deep. One moment you’re sharing bottles of wine while playing poker, and the next thing you know is you haven’t seen them in over a year. Like Pádraic, I would have appreciated a heads up that the friendship was over and there would be no more sharing of pints. But most of the time, you’re driving smoothly and all of a sudden there’s a humongous pothole, big enough to swallow all the memories you two had together.
In a friendship fallout, communication is crucial because it makes the unfriended party feel a semblance of closure. And the lack of it leads them into the deep hole of self-questioning. Pádraic is very confused at first because he doesn’t know what or if he did wrong. He keeps on repeating this same thought to everyone who asks about the recent altercation. Remember, they technically owe nothing to you but as a decent human beings, they should be able to tell you something or anything. It can be disorienting to ask so many questions. Like, was this brewing underneath for months? Were they ever really good people? Does my absence make no difference or even worse, does it make it better for them?
Some of us like Pádraic will choose to pursue the loose threads ourselves. Although, this violates the other person’s boundaries. It may seem childish or even extreme like Colm chopping his fingers off every time Pádraic tried to talk to him. However you feel, yes even when they self-mutilate, that person deserves respect in regards to their space. Perhaps, time will be the catalyst for a definitive exchange but in the newness of this fallout, it’s best to stay away.
Then comes the comparison, shortly after, you have the urge to check their socials and see how they’re doing. Did they get a baby? Or are they in the US now? They went vegan, huh? And you just don’t compare the material things that they possess, you even go as far as to ask yourself who these people around them are. Pádraic lies to one of Colm’s new friends – a fiddler from the mainland – that he got a telegram and should hurry home because his father was on the deathbed. I wouldn’t go that far but I see where he’s coming from. A drastic measure, we all agree, but seeing someone you’re still grieving chit-chatting merrily to another person could sting.
Even after a fall-out or even during, I’m very deliberate about still expressing love not only by reassuring them that I don’t want to blame them but also actively listening to them. This speeds up the resolution of the conflict, personally. And there are a few things in the film that emphasize this: Colm gets Pádraic onto his horse carriage after he’s been thrown violently to the ground by a policeman. We see it again when Padraic burns down Colm’s house only after ensuring Colm’s dog was safe.
Unfortunately, I’m not here to help with your fallout, because I’m still figuring it out. I’m just here to tell you when you look closely at grief, it’s just all the love you had ready to give which is now all in vain because as is said in the film “some things there’s no moving on from”. There is a chance you might go rogue like Padriac in his arson and make a fallout, a feud. But in this scenario, you not only lose a friend but gain an enemy and I can tell you, the world has enough of those.
The film is an essential body of work and it touches on a universal human experience that we need to talk about more frequently. But for now, my friends, lift ’em high and drain ’em dry, to the guy who says, “my turn to buy.”