06/05/2013 12:24 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Popcorn Preview: Shadow Dancer

Film: Shadow Dancer (2012)
Cast includes: Andrea Riseborough (W.E.), Clive Owen (Children of Men), Aidan Gillen (The Wire), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), David Wilmot (Anna Karenina), Domhnall Gleeson (True Grit)
Director: James Marsh (Man on Wire)
Genre: Drama | Thriller (101 minutes) Irish accents

Belfast 1973... young Collette is stringing beads when her dad asks, "Go get us some fags, would ya Luv?" Her little brother, Sean, is in the next room, and Collette tells him, "I went last time." Sean doesn't really want to go, but he does. Collette is so engrossed in her project that she doesn't even notice people outside running. When they bring Sean into the kitchen, frantically trying to save his life after being shot, Collette's horror is palpable. She blames herself, but what's more... her dad blames her, too. London 1993... the woman on the Underground with the large handbag is obviously Collette. Her expression is impassive as she changes trains and watches the other passengers. When she leaves the bag, she goes directly through a door into the guts of the Underground. She knows the mission is blown when she hears the loud speaker, "Due to a suspicious package, passengers are to leave the station immediately." As soon as she reaches the street, she's apprehended by MI5 and pushed wordlessly into the back seat of a car.

No one speaks to her until she's handed a folder. "This isn't going to give you what you want or what your lawyer wants, but it might help." After that, they watch her on a TV monitor, trying to judge her body language as she thinks about the folder's contents. But she's hard to read. There's a photo of Sean with all the details of his murder, along with other information about Connor's group in the IRA. "A lot of this you know we know... a lot of it, you don't," says Mac. He reminds her of the reality of being an Irish girl in an English jail. And there's no doubt that she will go to jail... her young son will grow up without his mother. "Everyone's talking peace," Mac says. The IRA is trying to derail peace talks, and Mac needs an informant inside Connor's group. "You agree to watch him and talk to us, you're out of here... back to your little boy. Nobody knows." "They'll kill me," she says. "They'll never know," he promises. Even though Mac's thought of everything, Collette knows the danger's real. And besides, Conner is family.

Collette has a lot to answer for when she gets back home. Kevin wants to know why the bomb didn't go off and what happened afterward? "You're back, like nothing happened." Collette is in a tough spot. There's danger, and there's loyalty. Mac's threat of being separated from her son is very real. But there's also danger from her own people. The troubles have been going on for so long that the web of intrigue has gotten very complicated. It's not always easy, knowing what's going on. Andrea Riseborough as Collette gives a nuanced and subtle performance. This is a tense, raw and realistic thriller. You have to be willing to follow it, wherever it goes... or at least to try. We feel Collette's pain as she struggles to do what she has to... at least we think we do. Mac's not entirely sure he can trust her. And for some reason, he also suspects a double-cross from agents he's working with. "Relax. We're all on the same side," his boss tells him. If you see it with a friend, you'll want to discuss it afterward.

3 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
An IRA member has no choice but to become an informant for MI5

Popcorn Profile
Rated: R (Language, Violence)
Audience: Grown-ups
Distribution: Art house
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Primary Driver: Plot development,
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Timely topic

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