Set in 1990s Belfast, an active member of the IRA becomes an informant for MI5 in order to protect her son's welfare.Set in 1990s Belfast, an active member of the IRA becomes an informant for MI5 in order to protect her son's welfare.Set in 1990s Belfast, an active member of the IRA becomes an informant for MI5 in order to protect her son's welfare.
The movie takes place in Belfast, and in the first scene, a young girl, Collette, is told by her father to buy him some cigarettes. She doesn't want to go, so instead, she sends her little brother Sean.
The action then shifts to 1993, and we see the adult Collette (Riseborough) deliberately leaving her purse in the London tube; as she escapes from the tube, she is arrested. An MI-5 agent, Mac (Owen) offers her a deal -- no prison time if she will become an informant and at the end of her time working for him, a new identity. Because she has a young son, she agrees.
Mac ultimately learns that his superior (Anderson) is using Collette as a red herring to protect her own mole inside the Irish organization. Mac tries to find out who the mole is and remove Collette from a dangerous situation.
This movie is sparse on dialogue and, frankly, action, particularly at the beginning as we see Collette on what seems to be an endless train ride and finally dropping her purse. After that, things pick up. The cinematography is dreary, with Ireland looking like it's one step up from a trailer park in most scenes.
Andrea Riseborough, who can be beautiful and glamorous, is photographed harshly here, and she's excellent as a young woman caught in the nightmare of having to betray her brothers and answer to their trigger-happy leader Kevin (David Wilmot) and to Mac. She is natural and realistic in underplaying the role of a young Irish girl under incredible tension. Owen is good as the protective Mac, tough and persuasive.
The big problem is the lack of family connection, that is, Collette's relationship with her worried mother and her brothers, who are entrenched in a violent world. Shadow Dancer concentrates on the relationship between Mac and Collette, where showing more within the family would have brought us into the film more deeply.
We're led to believe certain things in "Shadow Dancer," and it's not until the end of the movie that we realize what a good script it was, and how well it is directed by James Marsh.
A sober movie showing the impact of violence and stress on one family.
- Feb 22, 2014