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Shadow Dancer (2013)


Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 87
Fresh: 71
Rotten: 16

Critics Consensus: A tense, thought-provoking thriller, Shadow Dancer is bolstered by sensitive direction from James Marsh and a terrific performance from Andrea Riseborough.

Average Rating: 6.1/10
Reviews Counted: 21
Fresh: 14
Rotten: 7

Critics Consensus: A tense, thought-provoking thriller, Shadow Dancer is bolstered by sensitive direction from James Marsh and a terrific performance from Andrea Riseborough.


Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 7,014


Movie Info

Single mother Collette McVeigh is a Republican living in Belfast with her mother and hardliner IRA brothers. When she is arrested for her part in an aborted IRA bomb plot in London, an MI5 officer (Mac) offers her a choice: lose everything and go to prison for 25 years or return to Belfast to spy on her own family. With her son's life in her hands, Collette chooses to place her trust in Mac and return home, but when her brothers' secret operation is ambushed, suspicions of an informant are … More

R (for language and some violent content)
Mystery & Suspense , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Tom Bradby
In Theaters:
Aug 20, 2013
Box Office:
Magnolia Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Shadow Dancer

All Critics (87) | Top Critics (21) | Fresh (71) | Rotten (16)

The film relies on terse dialogue and boggy colors to create an atmosphere dense with anxiety -- all well handled by director James March.

Full Review… | July 22, 2013
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

A respectable political/psychological suspenser, but not a wildly entertaining or enjoyable one.

Full Review… | June 27, 2013
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

A tautly minimalist, occasionally generic study of betrayal and family ties.

Full Review… | June 14, 2013
Boston Globe
Top Critic

[Riseborough's] work is indrawn and riveting. It's hard to read the look in her eye, but we never stop trying.

Full Review… | June 13, 2013
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

This British thriller by James Marsh is a little too neatly scripted and tightly edited for my taste, but there are galvanizing performances from Andrea Riseborough... and Clive Owen.

Full Review… | June 13, 2013
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

These are characters for whom true belief in a cause has probably become impossible; they know how much that costs. Marsh does a compelling job of illustrating that for the rest of us.

Full Review… | June 13, 2013
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

Plays slyly with noir; adroitly twists and turns away from easy expectations in its final minutes. This thriller's got one sharp, savage ending. Marsh takes a black-eyed stare out from the gravestone-gray, waning days of the Troubles.

Full Review… | December 27, 2013
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

A grim but measured and intelligent art-house slow-burner.

Full Review… | December 16, 2013
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The acting in this film is very good. The plot is lean and powerful. It is pretty depressing, but it seems true enough in its depiction of this troubled period of history.

Full Review… | November 19, 2013
Laramie Movie Scope

By the end, the film shows not only the power of this influence but also its terrible price in an often merciless conflict.

Full Review… | November 4, 2013
Film Comment Magazine

Despite solid performances, a slow first half takes away from this otherwise effective drama about an IRA sympathizer whose life becomes more complicated after she's coerced into spying for MI-5.

Full Review… | September 3, 2013
Movie Metropolis

It's absorbing, intelligent and sad.

Full Review… | June 27, 2013
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Themes ripped from today's headlines lend "The Troubles" of Northern Ireland very tense, sobering, contemporary immediacy. . . Riseborough [is] mesmerizing at first sight.

Full Review… | June 14, 2013

[Director James Marsh] shows a deft hand with his actors and elicits a notable performance from [Andrea] Riseborough. The production is straightforward on all fronts and catches the bleakness hovering above Belfast under siege.

Full Review… | June 13, 2013
Reeling Reviews

Marsh focuses this slowly simmering drama on more universal themes of family, betrayal and decisions that people make that are both right and wrong at the same time.

Full Review… | June 6, 2013
Paste Magazine

a potent, ultimately disheartening slow-burn drama

Full Review… | June 2, 2013
Q Network Film Desk

So many situations and plot points seem too sketchy here, but the two main characters manage to intrigue us, thanks to Andrea Riseborough and Clive Owen.

Full Review… | June 1, 2013
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

...a quietly disturbing look at the choices placed before someone who is caught between two worlds, neither offering harbor.

Full Review… | June 1, 2013
Reeling Reviews

Shadow Dancer is a quiet film that demands careful attention...

Full Review… | May 31, 2013
Leonard Maltin's Picks

Audience Reviews for Shadow Dancer


A captured IRA operative must decide to cooperate with a MI5 officer and betray her family or risk imprisonment.
A slow, stolid, essentially British film, Shadow Dancer is remarkably predictable. Each choice is explored in stereotypical fashion: the MI5 agent talks about the futility of violent resistance and the IRA leverages nationalistic and family loyalty. The performances are good but not extraordinary. Clive Owen is as intense as ever, and Andrea Riseborough is occasionally too stoic to read but not dynamic enough to be worth caring about.
Overall, if there were some surprise at the end, I might look more favorably on the film.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


An uninteresting drama that lacks any surprises and whose bland approach makes it emotionally distant and boring, with a plot that drags, characters who are hard to care about and scenes that should be suspenseful but only feel tedious.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer


A slow-paced, though effective look at a member of the IRA (Andrea Riseborough) and how she is forced into a deal with a sympathetic MI5 agent (Clive Owen) to give information to the agency on her family who is involved in the terrorist organization. Definitely not a film for everyone, but ultimately this is a movie I respect tremendously as it goes for realism over excitement, a risk given the nature of these movies and how many directors would have opted for the high-drama and more explosions option instead to please a wider audience. Instead, director James Marsh tells this story straight, and the result is an effective, interesting look on a spy and how she must keep her cover or risk losing everything in the process, but still struggles with feelings of betraying her family. Riseborough and Owen are both fantastic, and the film is a success given the acting coupled with extremely good writing and directing.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer


'Shadow Dancer'. A solid thriller centred around sacrifice, set against the bleakness of the IRA. Andrea Riseborough captivates all the way.

c0up †

Super Reviewer

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