Shadow Dancer (2012)

JAMES MARSH

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

United Kingdom/Ireland, 2012.  BBC Films, Element Pictures, , , , .  Screenplay by , based on his novel. Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

Following a devastating childhood event,  is now a mature woman committed to the cause of the IRA.  A failed attempt to bomb a tube station results in her being pulled in by authorities and given the chance by her arresting officer (Clive Owen) to save her own skin:  if she is willing to be a double agent and help bring down terrorists further up the chain, she might avoid going to jail, which would leave her own child to the fate it would suffer as a result of her absence.  An effectively drab atmosphere and a wholly impressive performance in the lead by the always reliable Riseborough make for compelling viewing that keeps you locked to the screen throughout this hopelessly dark melodrama.  James Marsh’s direction emphasizes a believable atmosphere with actors who thoroughly embody their characters with authentic detail ( is terrific as Riseborough’s mother) while the whole thing takes place in rooms that truly look like they have enjoyed indoor smoking for decades.  Unfortunately, the screenplay paints itself into a corner and the tidy ending is contrived, undoing the effects of what preceded.  A pat resolution to satisfy an audience without a sense of practical political perspective belies the complex morality and emotional devastation of the situations it presents.

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