Shadow Dancer an intense spy thriller with the quality of a Hollywood movie

When I first heard about the plot for Shadow Dancer I was not too excited about it, another film about the troubles in Northern Ireland haven’t we seen enough on that subject? However I was pleasantly surprised when I got to see it as the closing film at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

Based on a novel by Tom Bradby, an ITV news correspondent also called Shadow Dancer Tom Bradby draws on his knowledge of Northern Ireland working as a TV correspondent covering the troubles. The difference with Shadow Dancer is that it has managed to strip away much of politics instead we get a fast-paced spy thriller with an international appeal.

Shadow Dancer refers to Colette (Andrea Riseborough), a single mother and active member of the IRA member picked up in a covert MI5 operation in London after an abortive bombing mission. Mac (Clive Owen) a driven M15 officer had been carefully monitoring Collette’s movements for some time, presents her with some information about the death of her brother as a child. Faced with years in prison without seeing her young son, she reluctantly becomes an informer.  This well worked script is a knife-edge thriller, for Colette (Andrea Riseborough), it’s her attempt to protect her family,  for MI5’s Mac (Clive Owen’s) it’s his endeavour to protect her identity from his fellow agents; can anyone be really trusted? With such high stakes one false move and the consequence’s will catastrophic.

In my opinion this may be one of the first films set in Northern Ireland during the troubles that manages to avoid a lot of the stereotypical baggage, providing Shadow Dancer to successfully appeal to an international audience. It’s an intense psychological thriller which feels more like a quality Hollywood movie, the characters are well-developed it will keep you on the edge of your seat, culminating in a nail-biting ending.

Shadow Dancer  had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, and goes on general release on August 24th. This is by far the best Irish movie to go release in recent years, it just pips Grabbers for that spot with opened last week.

Question need to be asked about the quantity and production values of Irish films released in the last 5-6 years. It would appear there will be some reversal in 2012 with at least 4 others films soon to be released that have great potential. Lets hope this is due to a change in direction by the Irish Film Board rather than a lucky streak.

Shadow Dancer was supported by The Irish Film Board and Northern Ireland Screen.

© Tom Dowling 2012 image by Tom Dowling

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Categories: Film and TV

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