Monday, August 13, 2012

Shadow Dancer

In 1993 Collette is on a mission to plant a bomb for the IRA on the London Underground, meanwhile negotiations that will lead to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 are underway. Collette is snatched by MI5 and offered the choice between returning home to her young son (and her IRA pals) as an informer, or a trial and long prison sentence in England and away from her son. Her new handler, Mac, reassures her that MI5 has never lost an informer in Northern Ireland.

Returning home she discovers that she is expected to come up with useful information every week. Meanwhile Mac's boss insists on using the first useful tip immediately and consequently the IRA suspects that someone in her family is an informant for the British. Mac also smells a rat and to protect his new informant has to use his spy skills against his employer to figure out what's going on behind his back.

The film exposes the dark underbelly of spy work; the testy and interdependent relationship between an informer (who is betraying family and friends and runs the risk of death if discovered) and the handler who's job it is to reassure, gain the confidence of and persuade the informer to keep on betraying. Its a relationship that must surely be soul destroying for both parties involved.

This is not a James Bond style spy thriller, while there are action scenes, the centre of the film is the relationships between Collette and her family and IRA associates, between Collette and Mac and between Mac and others in MI5. The is no glamour in Shadow Dancer (apart from Collette's red coat), just the general grimness of life in Belfast, and the potential for things to go fatally wrong.

Ian's rating 3/5, Anne's rating 3/5

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