Shadow Dancer

To truly enjoy Shadow Dancer you may want to take ten minutes and read a Wikipedia page or two and brush up on your modern British/Irish history. The plot of this emotional, subtly powerful film centers around the conflict between the British government and the IRA (Irish Republican Army). The plot is primarily character driven and Andrea Riseborough deftly portrays the protagonist, Colette McVeigh who is caught in a web of divided loyalties, violence, guilt, and deception. In a post 9-11 world it’s shockingly easy to make the mental association between “terrorists” and men with beards and AK-47s. However, Shadow Dancer forces viewers to adjust their mental schema for terrorisst to include Colette McVeigh, a pretty, young Irish mother, committing terrorist acts in the morning and picking her son up from grade school in the afternoon. While The Troubles (the political troubles of Northern Ireland in the latter half of the twentieth century) offer plenty of opportunities for filmmakers to take advantage of tear jerking drama and shocking acts of violence, Shadow Dancer conveys the seriousness of the situation and the way the Irish people live in a constant state of tension and barely suppressed violence without slipping into melodrama. In a way, Shadow Dancer is at its core is a story about the importance of family and the terrible sacrifices ordinary people will make to protect the people they love. Colette and her brothers are drawn into the atmosphere of violence as children, when their youngest brother is killed by a stray bullet while walking down the sidewalk. In a cruel, cyclical fashion, violence begets violence and as adults, these siblings become the agents of the violence that they loathed and feared as children. Colette’s struggle to remain loyal to her brothers, protect herself and her son, and eventually escape the destructive, violent atmosphere of 1990’s Belfast comprises the fabric of this richly woven historical narrative. 4/5 -Colleen Garrott


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