Recommended film – Shadow Dancer
by Patrick O’Connor
WATCHING this superb British thriller set in Belfast in the 1990s when the peace process was gathering pace, one could not help but feel sadness and despair at all the lives lost in the Northern Ireland conflict.
The story revolves around Colette (played to perfection by Andrea Riseborough), an IRA activist who we first encounter travelling on the London Underground carrying a bag which she later discards in suspicious circumstances.
But as she attempts to leave the Underground she is apprehended and taken to meet a British intelligence officer Mac (Clive Owen).
It is now that the plot really takes off as Mac, using every threatening tool at his disposal, turns Colette into an informer.
She is set loose back amongst the deadly terrorist terrain of West Belfast where she is part of a renowned Republican family including two brothers who are active ‘soldiers’.
Colette also has a small son to look after and is very close to her Ma (an expertly delivered low-key performance by Brid Brennan).
The drama focuses on the conflicts faced by Colette. She is in constant danger of being exposed and the horrors that will bring, especially when ice-cold IRA chief Kevin (David Wilmot) begins to suspect her.
Her situation is not helped by the fact Mac begins to realise that his superior Kate (Gillian Anderson) does not seem to be too bothered if his ‘tout’ is outed.
There is also a subtle change in the relationship between agent and informer which adds to the growing tension.
Director James Marsh does an excellent job in re-creating the period and a powerful, explosive finale reinforces the sheer senselessness of it all.