Films: Shadow Dancer

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Shadow Dancer

Shadow Dancer

Ireland, 2012, 101 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Crime, Drama, Historical/Period, Political, Thriller
Program: Special Presentation
Language: English

DIRECTOR: James Marsh
Producer: Chris Coen, Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe
Editor: Jinx Godfrey
Screenwriter: Tom Bradby
Cinematographer: Rob Hardy
Principal Cast: Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough, Gillian Anderson, Aidan Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson

It’s the dying days of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. Colette, a young Irish mother, is about to plant a bomb in a London subway. She was radicalized at an early age after she sent her brother out to get cigarettes for her father, only to have the boy killed in a firefight between British and Irish forces.

In an almost wordless scene, Colette (Andrea Riseborough) plants the bomb and is promptly taken into custody, where she must choose either jail time or working for MI5, the latter allowing her to be with her son. The plan is for her to report to MI5 agent Mac (Clive Owen) on the activities of her two brothers, both high-ranking IRA officers. Mac promises that no one will die—a promise easily broken. Colette finds herself caught between betraying her people for her own sake and proving her loyalties by still participating in murderous acts. Mac tries to protect her, but his superiors find it expedient to out Colette in order to get at her brothers’ hard-core terrorist crew. She’s under siege on all fronts. Even a moment of joy, like her son’s first bike ride, is overshadowed by dread. A twist in the story brings the relief of knowing the real traitor, but too much damage has already been done.

Director James Marsh, notable for the documentaries Man on Wire and Project Nim, gives the film a steadier pace than a traditional thriller, with a slow accretion of detail that builds with inexorable force. The screenplay for this powerful and affecting story was adapted by Tom Bradby from his 2001 novel.


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