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SHADOW DANCER (director: James Marsh; screenwriter: Tom Bradby/based on the novel by Tom Bradby; cinematographer: Rob Hardy; editor: Jinx Godfrey; music: Dickon Hinchliffe; cast: Andrea Riseborough (Colette McVeigh), Maria Laird (young Colette), Clive Owen (Mac), Barry Barnes (Gerry Senior, Dad), Aiden Gillen (Gerry), Domhnall Gleeson (Connor), Brid Brennan (Ma), David Wilmot (Kevin Mulville), Stuart Graham (Ian Gilmore), Martin McCann (Brendan), Gillian Anderson (Kate Fletcher, MI5 boss), Ben Smyth (Sean); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Chris Coen/Andrew Lowe/Ed Guiney; Magnolia Pictures; 2012-UK)
“A grim but measured and intelligent art-house slow-burner.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Brit filmmaker James Marsh(“Man on Wire“/”Project Nim“) directs this gripping drama based on the 2001 novel by Tom Bradby, who also scripted the film. The probing apolitical pic centers on the twenty-something Colette McVeigh (Andrea Riseborough), an IRA sympathizer from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who in 1993 is caught by the MI5 trying to leave a bomb in the London Underground and is coerced by MI5 agent Mac (Clive Owen) to become a double agent for British intelligence or else go to an English prison for a long time and the single mom’s young son will be sent to a state orphan’s home.Twenty years before, the young Colette’s (Maria Laird) younger brother (Ben Smyth) was killed in the street going on an errand to buy smokes for dad (Barry Barnes), supposedly by the Brits, as she bribed her brother to take her place with the money dad gave her to buy sweets. The tragedy left her inconsolable and as a result the Republican family became active members of the IRA and eventually her two brothers Gerry and Connor (Aiden Gillen & Domhnall Gleeson) rose to top positions in the terrorist organization.

Returning to Belfast, an anguishedColettehas a change of heart about being a mole and selling out her family.But when she’s slow to act on a mission Connor recruits her for, to participate in the assassination of a top Northern Irish police detective, friends and family grow suspicious of her and her safety is no longer secure as Mac’s chilly boss (Gillian Anderson), at MI5, goes ego-tripping on him over how to deal with the mole. It is inevitable that the truth will come out during the final days of the conflict with the IRA, as peace is imminent, and we’re left wondering how it will end for the hard luck Colette.

It’s a grim but measured and intelligent art-house slow-burner, that features a powerful performance byRiseborough, whose vulnerability mirrors that apprehensive bloody period of history.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”