Shadow Dancer


Featuring two stand out performances from its leading actors, Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough, Shadow Dancer is a taut, suspenseful thriller full of intrigue and a perfect encapsulation of a pre-peace process Belfast where no-one is really able to trust anyone else. It is a world of terrorists who are constantly outmanoeuvring each other whilst on the other side a special police squad who are simultaneously using the same tactics on each other, so there is little chance the situation will end well for anyone.

Every scene is fraught with a bitter hatred, both of opposing factions and those who are fighting the same cause. It is a lesson in self preservation and how far people will go to protect what is closest to them whatever the consequences of which there are bound to be many when treachery is involved. Director James Marsh manages to sustain the tension right through to the very end and the cinematography captures the sheer dull drudgery and weariness a life spent under tumultuous circumstances inevitably leads to.

After failing to set off a bomb in the London Underground in 1993 Colette- Riseborough- is enlisted by the Special Forces to spy and then inform on her brothers and their cohorts who are at the heart of the IRA. Promised protection by Mac-Owen-thingse not quite what they seem as his superiors have allowed him to enlist her as a means of deflecting from a longstanding informant. In essence Colette is being offered up as a sacrifice as it be comes obvious to the terrorists that she has to be the informant due to the timing of event and the fact she evades custody on several occasions and those around her assume she must be bargaining with information. The plot has several twists all of which are wholly plausible and well acted without ever slipping into cliché.

Shadow Dancer is a superior piece of intelligent drama which draws its audience into the uncertainty and squalid life of a community which has become exhausted with the constant troubles around them which, at the time, seemed beyond resolve or solution. A tightly coiled work which adopts its own pace and never falters it keeps the audience gripped through to its unexpected conclusion.

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