Shadow Dancer


Shadow Dancer Review

Like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, this thriller refuses to burst out into action mode, preferring to keep its thrills cerebral as the characters circle around each other like sharks. It's a fiercely complex, intelligent film that's expertly handled by Marsh (Man on Wire) in his narrative directing debut. And while mainstream audiences may long for just one explosive car chase, there are plenty of resonant themes to hold our attention in other ways.

Riseborough gives her best-yet performance as Colette, a young IRA operative who visits London in 1993 and is arrested by MI5 agent Mac (Owen). He offers her a terrible deal she can't refuse: if she wants to avoid prison to raise her son, she'll have to return to Belfast and spy on her mother (Brennan) and activist brothers (Gillen and Gleeson). But when she gets home, she discovers that the IRA boss (Wilmot) knows there's a spy in their midst. Is he talking about her? Or is there another one? And Mac is also a bit nervous when his boss (Anderson) starts acting suspicious.

Marsh's directing style quietly reveals all of the story's secrets as the film steadily goes along. The camerawork and editing are sleek and sophisticated, echoing the slippery danger that surrounds the characters. And the dialog is minimalistic, only hinting at the secrets and revelations and requiring rather a lot of work from the audience. But this is a refreshing change from other thrillers that spell everything out so plainly that we have nothing left to think about.

Riseborough holds our attention all the way through the film as a young woman caught in an impossible situation that keeps twisting and turning around her.

Gillen, Gleeson and Brennan are also terrific in smaller roles that leave us wanting to know a lot more about them. By comparison, Owen is oddly uninteresting, since we see nothing of his character beyond his work. But this adds to the film's enigmatic tone, which rewards patient viewers with a gripping story that forces us to think about what we'd do in a similar situation.

Rich Cline

Shadow Dancer

Facts and Figures

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th August 2012

Box Office USA: $99.1k

Box Office Worldwide: $420 thousand

Budget: $6.3M

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Production compaines: Unanimous Pictures, BBC Films, Element Pictures, Irish Film Board, Lipsync Productions, UKFS

Reviews 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Fresh: 71 Rotten: 16

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew


Producer: Chris Coen, , Andrew Lowe

Starring: as Colette McVeigh, as Mac, as Kate Fletcher, as Gerry, as Connor, as Ma, as Kevin Mulville, Stuart Graham as Ian Gilmour, as Brendan, Maria Laird as Young Collette, as Gerry Senior, as Liam Hughes, as Geoff

Also starring: