Shadow Dancer Movie Review
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.