The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Shadow Dancer | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Shadow Dancer

Directed by: James Marsh
Starring: Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough, Gillian Anderson, Aidan Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, David Wilmot

IRA terrorist Riseborough is recruited by Owen as an informer.
The only commendable aspect of documentarian turned narrative film-maker Marsh's latest is Riseborough's lead performance. She's brilliant as the terrorist torn between her family's politics and the threat of her son growing up without a mother. The rest of the film is reprehensible, particularly when viewed from an Irish perspective. The Irish Film Board seems hell-bent on portraying it's people as idiots, drunks and bombers by contributing to the funding of British productions like "Grabbers", "The Guard", and this thriller which has all the political nuance of a Roy Rogers' western.
The film is written by Tom Bradby, based on his novel. Bradby is a political editor for a British news channel so presumably has some insight into the conflict in Northern Ireland. None of that awareness is evident here, if it weren't for their accents his terrorists could hail from anywhere and represent any random cause. When you're dealing with a real terrorist group their agenda must be acknowledged, whether you agree with it or not. If you're not willing to provide any insight into why these people are willing to commit such violent atrocities then you should be using a fictional organisation rather than being disingenuous to an entire race of people. In Bradby's hands, the IRA have all the depth of the villains from a straight to video Dolph Lundgren movie. There's never any mention of why they have a gripe with the British authorities, everything's played out in simplistic black and white terms. It's akin to how Hollywood portrays the American civil war as good (The North) versus evil (The South) when the reality of course is much more complex. The movie disgustingly attempts to manipulate British viewers with a scene involving the planting of a bomb on the London Underground. For what it's worth, no Irish person has ever detonated a bomb on the Tube but several British people have.
Gone are the days when British films dealt with the subject of Ireland from a remorseful perspective. Not since John Wayne made "The Green Berets" has such propaganda been disguised as entertainment. Being a successful documentary film-maker, Marsh should know the value of representing all sides of a story. If he's not willing to then he shouldn't be making films based on real-life topics. Maybe a straight to video Dolph Lundgren vehicle would suit him better?