Shadow Dancer


Shadow Dancer

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 90


Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,467
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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 raised and Collette finds both herself and her family in grave danger.(c) Magnolia


Gillian Anderson
as Kate Fletcher
David Wilmot
as Kevin Mulville
Stuart Graham
as Ian Gilmore
Maria Laird
as Young Collette
Jamie Scott
as Young Gerry
Bradley Burke
as Young Connor
Daniel Tatarsky
as Watcher 1
Tom Bennett
as Watcher 2
Nia Gwynne
as Female Watcher
Jason Salkey
as Agent 1
Morgan Watkins
as MI5 Officer
Ian Patterson
as News Reporter
Michael McElhatton
as Liam Hughes
Alan O'Neill
as RUC Officer
David Herlihy
as Senior Staff Officer
Anne Brogan
as Bridget/Safehouse Woman
Frank Smith
as Henderson
Kate Nic Chonaonaigh
as Henderson Wife
Karl Shiels
as Mulville's Driver/Gunman
Mark Huberman
as RUC Officer at Hospital
Lisa Walsh
as Brendan's Girlfriend
Ronnie McCann
as RUC Constable
Eoin Murtagh
as Fletcher's Son
Alan Devine
as Social Club Barman
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News & Interviews for Shadow Dancer

Critic Reviews for Shadow Dancer

All Critics (90) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (75) | Rotten (15)

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

    Jul 22, 2013 | Full Review…
  • A tautly minimalist, occasionally generic study of betrayal and family ties.

    Jun 14, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    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.

    Jun 13, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 13, 2013 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 13, 2013 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Riseborough's ever-mobile face is a study as Collette cycles from hopelessness to panic to mama-bear rage.

    May 31, 2013 | Full Review…

    Dana Stevens

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Shadow Dancer

  • Apr 17, 2015
    After Collette(Andrea Riseborough) attempts to bomb a busy London Underground station, she is detained by authorities. At first, it appears that Mac(Clive Owen) just wants to talk with her and share some files and photos with her. That is all in the service of getting her to inform on some of her colleagues who are less than thrilled with the continuing peace process. As leverage, he uses the thought of her son having to travel hundreds of miles to visit her in prison. As much as car chases, gun fights and explosions can hinder a movie when it wants to have an intelligent discussion about an important subject, the banal and uninspired "Shadow Dancer" proves in slow moving abundance how bad the other extreme can be in sucking all of the oxygen out of the room. In this case, it involves people making life and death decisions and watching as other life changing ones are made without any kind of emotional reaction in the least. In the process, this also ends up wasting the talents of Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 20, 2014
    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 H Super Reviewer
  • Oct 21, 2013
    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 M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 05, 2013
    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 S Super Reviewer

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