Shadow Dancer Screen 10 articles

Shadow Dancer


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  • The material requires strong leads, which it gets in spades, and a simmering sense of tension, which the film’s sluggish pacing consistently deflates. Even Marsh’s grace notes—a funeral riot, a character washing the dishes while awaiting a date with death—can’t goad the story to life as it slouches toward a climax. There’s slow-burning, and then there’s simply slow; the difference between the two has never been so apparent.

  • Riseborough is effortlessly fantastic, and she has a vulnerable, pouty look that clashes nicely with how little vulnerability she tries to convey. But the film spends a lot of its length stalled and can’t help but trade in stock situations. The evolution of Colette and Mac’s relationship — is it interrogation… or is it love? — breaks up the slight monotony, but it’s an element from a less smart picture.

  • Despite potentially explosive subject matter, this terrorism drama remains considered and controlled, almost to a fault. After a gut punch of a first act, we’re thoroughly on board with Riseborough’s IRA operative, but somehow the deeper we go the less involving the film grows. Director Marsh opts for period tastefulness and psychological effect rather than outright tension.

  • Above all, the rhythm is increasingly flat. Marsh can pump up proceedings with urgent cross-cutting, and he has a flashy sense of style – lots of shots through car windows, stuff like that – but the story gradually deflates, and Shadow Dancer sinks into a morass of its own dramatic short-cuts and implausibilities.

  • An ambiguous, multi-layered mélange of deception, bureaucracy, subterfuge and personal one- upmanship set against The Troubles in Ireland during the early '90s. Riseborough stars as Colette McVeigh, our ethically conflicted and pallidly glamorous heroine.

  • By keeping us at an appropriate distance from his characters' thoughts, the film may frustrate the sort of identification we expect from more modest politically charged thrillers, and in turn render its final plot twist a bit less striking than puzzling. But thanks to Marsh's uncanny knack for conveying free-floating dread, Shadow Dancer expertly posits a world where politics perpetually corrodes personal connections and paranoia is no more or less than a daily fact of life.

  • ...Director James Marsh, best known for his documentaries Man On Wire and Project Nim, crafts an atmosphere of tenuous dread. The movie’s powdery color scheme and diffuse lighting make everything look fragile; unstable surfaces (fluttering curtains, overcast skies, fogged-up glass) have a tendency to find their way into the frame at key moments. More is suggested than spoken.

  • Working from Tom Bradby's screenplay (based on his book), the sometime documentarian [James Marsh] gives his material edgy life via his economy of style, with his framing exhibiting an unfussy, astute attention to spatial power dynamics—even in a seemingly simple shot-countershot sequence of advancing/retreating close-ups—that reveal him to be an assured classicist.

  • In Shadow Dancer, Marsh captures subtle, humanizing gestures, as when an IRA activist nervously fingers his watch before a hit. He tends toward longer shots that linger on his subjects for that extra beat, often unearthing some telling detail or human flaw in the process.

  • Known primarily for his documentaries Man on Wire and Project Nim, Marsh's probing style feels right at home in grittier genre fare like Shadow Dancer. Instead of resorting to a handheld style to create feelings of anxiety, Marsh's camera waits patiently for characters to react within stressful situations.

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