30.8.12

Shadow Dancer - Review - aka Why I Hate Irish Film


I love Ireland, I really do. As bad as blind patriotism is to mankind, I cant help it. Unfortunately, I absolute hate Irish film and its industry. Everything made by my country since the 50s has either been foreign companies with their productions here for the financial incentives or it is preachy, green fields, catholic church nonsense.

Particularly, films based in Northern Ireland. As rich as our own history is, it is the troubles in the north that grabbed the eyes of the slow-news-day world and ever since our films have been funneling the attention into sympathetic IRA protagonists and the grit and squalor of catholic living while always managing to avoid the elephant - 'why the fuck do we hate each other?'.


Although there is signs of change and hope for the future.

The most recent installment in the collection is 'Shadow Dancer' from Man on Wire director James Marsh. Set in 1990s Belfast, it follows the story of female character #1, Andrea Riseborough, and a mysterious, yet loveable MI5 agent played by Clive Owen.

The plot follows her adventures as an Irish terrorist in London ultimately being captured by MI5 and reluctantly turned into one of their informants. She does this all in hopes of protecting her son and mother who both hold key emotion jerking positions throughout the film.

"You said nobody dies, nobody gets hurt" - Colette, Shadow Dancer

Revealing much more will end up spoiling it for you, but it's safe to say that not everything goes to plan for neither the IRA nor MI5.

While this film is miles away from breaking any new ground in regards to film making or story telling – what it does it does well. Marsh seems to have created the pinnacle of 100 years of Thriller films. It would either put a smile on Hitchcock's face or leave him sighing for more.

The visuals here have been given much more attention than the script. So much so that you sometimes ask yourself 'it's daytime, why are the blinds closed?'. Although the sets are the same and repetitive they are always shown in new and interesting ways. The lighting is beautiful and the soft focus in all of the shots adds to the drama, as it was invented to do. The framing and contrast is imaginative and I would advise people to see it if only for that.

Never before have I been so equally amused and annoyed by an actor than by Gillian Anderson in 'Shadow Dancer' who plays Clive Owen's self-entitled boss. She manages to add originality in an unoriginal position and to a character that should’ve been given more screen time. Her work here is mentionable and stands out among the dreary doomdays-esque acting on show during 'Shadow Dancer'. The two protagonists, while given their academy thanking moments; swinging punches and Owen's “I'm not gonna let that happen!”, it all falls a bit flat and contrived. Suiting the genre of the film, yes, but entertaining, no.

With an juicy final twist, even if slightly predicted, it is well deserving of all the rave reviews it's getting and of course undeserving of its lack of popularity. The only time I've ever seen a cinema so empty was when I was a kid and spent half an hour with a friend in the wrong screen...

Although the sour taste in my mouth towards Irish film has been numbed for now, I cant imagine that after the boredom circling this movie, even with the help of it's trailer showing all the actiony bits, Northern Ireland may be a topic off the film to-do list. For now. I hope.

Rating ¦¦ 7/10