Shadow Dancer Blu-ray Review
Belfast, Ireland. 1973. A father asks his young daughter Collette (Maria Laird) to run down to the corner store to pick up some cigarettes. He gives her the money and tells her she can also get herself some sweets. Not in the mood to go for a walk she makes the same demand of her little brother. Dutifully he heads out the door. Moments later the boy is carried home, having been shot…a victim of the long war that tore the city apart for decades.
London, England. 1993. Now an adult, Collette (Riseborough) is riding the local subway. Exiting the car she leaves a package behind. Before she can exit the station she is apprehended. Soon she is face to face with Mac (Owen), a member of MI5, who explains to her what happens to terrorists who leave bombs on trains. Collette is convinced to spy for the group on her brothers, zealous followers of the IRA who are hell bent against any progress towards peace, which is slowly being achieved. Threatening to take her young son away from her (Collette is unmarried), Mac is constantly pushing her for information. She must make a choice: protect her brothers or lose the son she loves.
Presented in a very matter-of-fact fashion, SHADOW DANCER is a little film that tries to tell a familiar story in a new way. Based on the novel of the same name by International Television News correspondant Tom Bradby, the movie gives a more in-depth look at the inner workings of the IRA in the early 1990s. Bradby, who also wrote the screenplay, covered the eventual cease fire for three years and that experience gives the film an almost documentary feel.
The cast gets a mixed review here. Riseborough, who co-starred this summer opposite Tom Cruise in OBLIVION, is outstanding. Her character has to go through so many different emotional arcs yet not give herself away and she does a fine job of conveying those emotions without being overly demonstrative. On the other end of the spectrum you have Owen, normally a strong actor, almost sleepwalking through his role. It’s almost as if he would just drive up to the set, do his lines and then leave again. No real emotion shown or considerably overdone. The supporting cast fares better, especially Aidan Gillen and Domhnall Gleason as Collette’s radical brothers. If Gleason appears familiar it’s because he is the son of actor Brendan Gleason (GANGS OF NEW YORK) and bears a strong resemblance to his pop.
Director Marsh, whose documentaries run the gamut from the Oscar winning “Man on a Wire” to the deliciously titled look into the eating habits of the King of Rock and Roll, “The Burger and the King: The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley,” keeps the story moving, never giving too much away as the story progresses. Production values are top notch and the musical score Dickon Hinchliffe sets the right tone for the on-screen action.
Riseborough’s performance has been earning award kudos since the film’s release and is well worth the time spent watching the film.
SHADOW DANCER BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The film presentation is sharp and well defined. Outdoor scenes, especially in the rain, are muted but still stand out. The film is presented in a 2:35.1 aspect ratio.
Audio: Presented in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, the sound is clear with background noise (subway traffic, crowds) cleanly mixed and not overwhelming.
Behind the Scenes of “Shadow Dancer” (8:28): A short featurette detailing the making of the film.
Cast and Crew Interviews (27:29): Cast and filmmaker interviews with Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough, Gillian Anderson, Brid Brennan, director James Marsh, author Tom Bradby and the film’s producer, Chris Coen.
AXS TV: A Look at “Shadow Dancer” (3:00): An edited version of the featurette highlighted above.
Also From Magnolia: Trailers for some other Magnolia releases.
BD Live: If you’re Blu-ray player is internet friendly you can use this feature to view other trailers from Magnolia.