Shadow Dancer (2012)

Shadow Dancer (2012)

2012 R 101 Minutes


Set in 1990s Belfast, a woman is forced to betray all she believes in for the sake of her son.

Overall Rating

6 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • Shadow Dancer settles for realistic drama rather than exciting tension. Unfortunately, it does not always work. I find that the medium of film can be used to evoke an emotional connection, provide entertainment or a method of portraying art. Television is focussed on serial dramas with plenty of meat that one film just cannot provide. Shadow Dancer, I believe, would've been better off as a TV drama. An aborted terrorist mission in London leaves a young IRA member with an ultimatum: assist the British government by being an informant or spend life in prison away from her son. The IRA movement is a well documented event that has been depicted in several films. This drama takes the more subtle approach and substitutes guns and rallies for slow burning suspense. It just didn't work for me. It's so realistic that it doesn't provide any entertainment. There are moments where tension rises, particularly when an IRA member is shot and Collette must escape before being discovered as an informant. A nice long tracking shot as she flees the scene through an urban residence. The second act itself is full of sharp dialogue and clean technical direction that I start to become invested in the story. Then the rushed third act arrives and we're back at square one. Andrea Riseborough and Domhnall Gleeson are two of my favourite current actors. They both, yet again, portray emotionally vulnerable and patriotic roles where they are forced into this situation. Clive Owen is the perfect choice for playing an MI5 operative, he is cool, calm and has that cold stern stare to get the answers he wants. Gillian Anderson was wasted potential, again. The narrative was extremely sharp and concise and I think that's where the problem lies. The pacing is so quick that we're unable to connect with these characters and truly feel the tension. Just needs to let scenes simmer and give us an impact. However, for a British/Irish drama there are many elements that work. It's casting is spot on, direction was excellent and the suspense does increase occasionally. It's just not exciting.