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Shadow Dancer

Shadow Dancer

Director: James Marsh, Andrea Riseborough, Clive Owen, Aidan Gillen

Cast: James Marsh, Andrea Riseborough, Clive Owen, Aidan Gillen


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Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough star in this drama directed by James Marsh (Man on Wire, Project Nim), and centering on the internal conflict experienced by an IRA revolutionary who is forced to become a double agent for British intelligence. As young girl growing up


Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough star in this drama directed by James Marsh (Man on Wire, Project Nim), and centering on the internal conflict experienced by an IRA revolutionary who is forced to become a double agent for British intelligence. As young girl growing up in a family of Republicans, Belfast native Colette McVeigh (Riseborough) was devastated when he brother was killed back in the 1970s. As a result of the tragedy, her family joined the insurgency, and Colette became an active member of the IRA. Twenty years later Colette has a son of her own, and continues the struggle alongside her two remaining brothers. Her life is changed forever when she is apprehended by MI5 agent Mac (Owen) following a failed bombing attempt in London, and then offered the opportunity to avoid prison time by becoming an informant to the British government. Upon returning to Belfast, Colette experience an intense crisis of conscience while attempting to fulfill her duties as a mole. Meanwhile, her friends and family seem to grow apprehensive in her presence, and Mac finds it increasingly difficult to ensure her safety. Now it's only a matter of time before the truth comes out, and Colette's fragile construction of lies come crashing down all around her.

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What's more important: loyalty to one's family or to a cause? That's the conundrum for Collette McVeigh (Andrea Riseborough), an Irish Republican from Belfast who's just been nicked by British intelligence for trying to plant a bomb in the London Underground. But she's a single mom with a young son, so an MI5 agent named Mac (Clive Owen) tells her she can either cooperate and become an informant or go to jail for so long that her boy will grow up without her. Collette lives with her mother (Brid Brennan) and two brothers, Gerry (Aidan Gillen) and Connor (Domhnall Gleeson), both of whom shoulder considerable responsibilities for the Irish Republican Army. There was another McVeigh sibling, but when the film opens in the 1970s, a young Collette deputizes her little brother Sean to go out for their father's cigarettes, and he dies after being caught in the cross fire between British and Irish forces. Fast-forward to 1993: The ostensible end to the Troubles is still a few years off, but it's obvious the childhood trauma has driven a guilt-ridden Collette to sympathize with the fight to force the British out by any means necessary. Although reluctant at first, Collette eventually consents to Mac's terms, and they agree to meet in secret on the Belfast coast (the film was shot in Dublin), where she's expected to report on IRA activities in general and her brothers' participation in particular. The latter proves to be a dangerous test of her loyalty after Connor ropes her into an assassination attempt on a police detective, but when it's thwarted by authorities, a relentless IRA security chief (David Wilmot) smells a rat -- and wonders if it's someone in the McVeigh family. The film was adapted by Tom Bradby from his 2001 novel, which was hatched during his time as a political reporter in Northern Ireland in the 1990s for Britain's Independent Television News. One day, Bradby spent his lunch hour talking to a male British intelligence officer about the business of recruiting agents in the IRA, and that afternoon being wowed at a press conference by a stunning Republican woman, causing him to wonder what would happen when these two worlds collided. Owen is the big draw here as Mac, who at first appears as if he's only here to pry the truth from Collette, but becomes more complex when it's revealed that his own colleagues, and especially his boss (Gillian Anderson), have been keeping him in the dark about an ongoing parallel operation. But Riseborough comes away as perhaps the best reason to see the film, as her guarded delivery, defiant stares, and the way she masks her constant fear of being found out fit neatly with the steadily mounting suspense, numerous close calls, and a long list of characters who may or may not be on the level. Director James Marsh won an Oscar for his 2008 documentary Man on Wire, about daredevil Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center in 1974, but he ramps up a different kind of tension with Bradby's screenplay. And by keeping politics in the background and emphasizing more than a few tenuous relationships, he allows the conflict, mistrust, and dishonesty in both Collette's and Mac's camps to come through without taking sides.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
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Special Features

Behind the scenes of Shadow Dancer; Cast and crew interviews; AXS TV: a look at Shadow Dancer

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Andrea Riseborough Collette
Clive Owen Mac
Aidan Gillen Gerry
Domhnall Gleeson Connor
Gillian Anderson Kate Fletcher
Maria Laird Young Collette
Ben Smyth Sean
Brid Brennan Ma
Jamie Scott Young Gerry
Bradley Burke Young Connor
Daniel Tatarsky Watcher 1
Tom Bennett Watcher 2
Nia Gwynne Female Watcher
Jason Salkey Agent 1
Nicholas Asbury Agent 2
Morgan Watkins MI5 Officer
Cathal Maguire Mark
Ian Patterson News Reporter
Michael McElhatton Liam Hughes
David Wilmot Kevin Mulville
Alan O'Neill RUC Officer
Gary Lydon Geoff
David Herlihy Senior Staff Officer
Stuart Graham Ian Gilmore
Martin McCann Brendan
Anne Brogan Bridget/Safehouse Woman
Frank Smith Henderson
Kate Nic Chonaonaigh Henderson Wife
Karl Shiels Mulville's Driver/Gunman
Mark Huberman RUC Officer at Hospital
Lisa Walsh Brendan's Girlfriend
Ronnie McCann RUC Constable
Eoin Murtagh Fletcher's Son
Alan Devine Social Club Barman

Technical Credits
James Marsh Director
Tom Bradby Executive Producer,Screenwriter
Brahim Chioua Executive Producer
Chris Coen Producer
Rita Dagher Executive Producer
Camille Gatin Co-producer
Jinx Godfrey Editor
Katie Goodson-Thomas Associate Producer
Ed Guiney Producer
Rob Hardy Cinematographer
Jon Henson Production Designer
Dickon Hinchliffe Score Composer
Andrew Lowe Producer
Vincent Maraval Executive Producer
Norman Merry Executive Producer
Lorna Mugan Costumes/Costume Designer
Joe Oppenheimer Executive Producer


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