During an IRA bomb attempt in London, Collette (Andrea Riseborough) is brought into custody by MI5 agent, Marc (Clive Owen), who offers to cut her a deal. If Collette becomes an informant for MI5, she can avoid prison entirely. With her primary concern being the well-being of her young son, Collette returns to Belfast as an informant, betraying her family and long time beliefs for the sake of her son's future. James Marsh's Shadow Dancer is a tense, well-crafted thriller which relies heavily on the central performance of Andrea Riseborough to express its themes. Shadow Dancer shows the poisonous effect Irish politics has on one particularly family, leading too tough moral choices which are never black and white. Collette is a woman trapped between protecting her son and betraying her brothers and Riseborough does a tremendous job at capturing the vulnerability and resolve which this character has. Another impressive aspect of Shadow Dancer lies in its ability to create a tense and suspenseful experience when there is barely any violence on-screen throughout the entire film. The viewer is on constant edge regardless of this lack of action and Riseborough and director, James Marsh, deserve a lot of credit for that. Being about a really sensitive subject, Shadow Dancer never chooses sides, opting instead to show the bad and good which exists on both sides of this complicated and long-lasting feud. The film understands that these people, on both sides, are simply fighting for what they believe is right and the film never condones nor demonizes them for it. In a way, Shadow Dancer is a film about maternal nature and Collette's desire to give her son a better life. I do wish the film would have spent a little more time establishing the connection and love between Collette and her son, but this is a very minor complaint.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.