Set in 1990s Belfast, an active member of the IRA becomes an informant for MI5 in order to protect her son's welfare in this taut thriller.
Follows the tale of a young woman, a former IRA terrorist turned informer for Blighty's MI5. Her brothers are both heavily involved with the IRA and her husband was killed by Brit security forces.
But when she is arrested over an aborted bombing attempt in London, she is forced to reveal her past if she wishes to see her children again. The action in ‘Shadow Dancer’ begins with the shadow of a death, from 1973, that hangs over the McVeigh household and, particularly, daughter Collette, who inadvertently has a hand in family tragedy.
Fast-forward 20 years and Collette (Andrea Riseborough) is dancing to the tune of the Republican cause, quite possibly readying herself to make a bomb drop on a London tube. But instead of taking the lives of others, she finds herself snatched off the street and given an ultimatum by MI5 spook Mac (Clive Owen) - become a turncoat to her cause or lose all access to her young son.
With her nerves already shredded by a home life fuelled by her brothers' (Aidan Gillen and Domhnall Gleeson) fervour for Republicanism, the offer looks likely to stretch her to breaking point even as it, perversely, suggests there may be a route out. The question becomes not only how much is she prepared to risk her life by betraying her family but how far is Mac prepared to push her in order to meet his goals?
Mac, in turn, is facing political manoeuvrings that threaten to put Collette in even greater peril. The story itself is first-rate but it’s the very measured handling that makes it distinctive and Bradby’s unerringly intelligent script never makes a move that’s not vital to the narrative fabric. Director James Marsh (Man on a Wire) has produced a thriller so taut that it makes last year's masterclass in dread, ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, pale in comparison.
UK · Ireland · 2012 · James Marsh · 102min