Conclusion: 'Shadow Dancer' is an appropriately bleak and methodical spy thriller that features great performances and commendable craft. Director James Marsh's understated approach can be a little too slow and vague at times, but the film ultimately leaves a strong impression. The video and audio presentations are both rather modest, but they respect the film's intended style well.
Conclusion: Shadow Dancer is a decent story set against a recent epoch that not many Americans would be familiar with outside of a few notable figures here and there. And the performances of the film's stars are decent, but ultimately the story does not rise up to match the caliber of Riseborough and Owen. Technically the disc is fine, and the supplements were a minor surprise, and it is worth checking out for a welcome change of pace. What Do You Think?
Excerpt: “Let me tell you what it’s going to be like. Irish girl, English jail. Every time you want to see your boy, every time he wants to see you, his grandma’s gonna have to load him onto the ferry and drive 400 miles. It’s gonna break his f***in heart.
Conclusion: An involving slow-boiled drama that's likely to fly under most radars, Shadow Dancer warrants a look. Magnolia's Blu-ray is routine but suitable, the shortcomings of its feature presentation seemingly intentional.
Conclusion: In his interview, producer Chris Coen describes how raising the money for Shadow Dancer was an uphill battle, because as soon as financiers heard the word "IRA", they lost interest. Potential viewers may have the same reaction, but Shadow Dancer is no more about the Troubles than Oliver Hirshbiegel's Five Minutes of Heaven , which was also set in Ireland but dealt with fundamental problems of guilt and forgiveness.
Excerpt: Shadow Dancer is a dour, delicate downer about an Irish militant who is forced to become a mole for British counter-intelligence. It opens in Belfast in 1973, where a young boy is shot dead while running out to get a pack of cigarettes for his father. Twenty years later, his sister, played by Andrea Riseborough, plants a bomb on a London subway platform.
Excerpt: After an intro set in Belfast in 1973, Shadow Dancer flashes forward 20 years, shifting its action to London and delivering a set piece of imposing skill and power. In nearly wordless fashion, director James Marsh follows a young woman as she boards a train, exits at a Tube station where she drops a suspicious package on the steps, and, sensing danger, sneaks off into a tunnel where she makes her escape from the station, only to be immediately picked up by two MI5...
Summary: 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.
Excerpt: Shadow Dancer is a finely crafted, intelligently acted political thriller/drama with a complexity, subtlety, and depth that immediately recalls the recent Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy --to this film's detriment, as it is not as compelling a picture. The comparison seems unfair (the films were certainly in production at around the same time), but it's there nonetheless; it's the elephant in the screening room.