Review: Shadow Dancer (2012)

During an aborted bomb attempt in London, Collette (Andrea Riseborough) falls into the hands of an MI5 officer, Mac (Clive Owen), who offers her a deal: turn informant or go to prison. Fearing for her son’s welfare, she returns to Belfast where betraying family and beliefs she becomes a reluctant mole for British intelligence. As suspicion of Collette mounts and Mac takes increasing risks to protect her, both feel the net closing in.

Shadow Dancer is a drama/thriller film that’s set in 1990’s Belfast. The integral theme of the film is about how Collette gets caught while on a IRA mission in London; she has two choices presented to her from MI5 officer Mac, years in an English prison    miles away from her child or become an informant to betray on her IRA brothers. From then on practically the entire film is set in Belfast as we see Collette trying to keep her calm amongst her terrorist brothers. This was a film I knew little about by the way, I remember seeing the trailer before Moonrise Kingdom but from that I thought it looked decent.

Andrea Riseborough is really great in this role. Her portrayal of Collette seems very natural and convincing. Riseborough also captures a pretty convincing Northern Ireland accent for an English actress, it might sound easy but Northern Ireland accents can go horribly wrong quickly. I really like Andrea Riseborough and she is one of the best English actresses in the business at the moment, it’s just unfortunate she hasn’t quite been picked up by the masses just yet but she will be a big star soon.

Clive Owen I find hit and miss to be honest but in Shadow Dancer he’s effective if not acting out of his means, he just plays the standard MI5 agent who develops conflicting interests with the task presented to him. What was nice to see though was Gillian Anderson who dons on her English accent, she plays Kate Fletcher who is a MI5 higher-up in charge of the case involved with Mac and Collette. We also have two great support acts from Aidan Gillen and Domhnall Gleeson who play Collettes brothers respectively.

James Marsh’s Shadow Dancer is every bit as fantastic as his earlier works such as Man on Wire and Project Nim. The cinematography is beautifully composed, patient and detailed. Shadow Dancer could be called this years ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ – both share that sort of political drama/thriller streak to produce one of the best British films of the year. Do see this if you can because I guarantee it wont stay in the multiplexes for long.


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