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Laramie Movie Scope:
Shadow Dancer

A reluctant double agent walks a tightrope

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 16, 2013 -- This Irish-English film is all about the tragedy, tension and violence of the historical period known as “The Troubles” between England and Ireland and a family caught in the middle of this mess. The film takes place in 1993, with an introductory segment at the beginning set 20 years earlier.

The woman in the middle is a young mother planting a bomb in a London Subway tunnel, Colette McVeigh (played by Andrea Riseborough of “Oblivion”). She is caught by agents of MI5 (like the FBI in the U.S.) and given a choice, prison, or informant. She chooses to become an informant against the Irish Republican Army for the sake of her young son. Her contact is an MI5 agent, Mac (Clive Owen of “The International”).

Mac soon gets a tip from Colette on an assasination attempt, but is dismayed by the heavy handed response of MI5 to the incident. It seems that MI5 is trying to burn his informant. If the IRA discovers that Colette is an informant, she will be killed. Mac has been locked out loop. He reaches out to old friends in the intelligence community to find out what is going on.

In the meantime, Colette is under suspicion from the IRA. She is being followed and closely questioned. In one chilling scene, Colette is being questioned while another IRA gunman in another room puts down a plastic drop cloth for the assassination. She manages to stay alive with a convincing story, but she sees the plastic being rolled up as she leaves, so she knows how close she came to death.

The pressure on Colette continues to mount. In desperation, she passionately kisses Mac and turns him to her side as he redoubles his efforts to find out why MI5 seems so willing to dispose of his prize informant. He questions his boss, Kate Fletcher, (Gillian Anderson of “The X-Files”). She is keeping secrets from him, but reveals that money has something to do with what is going on.

Colette is a very smart woman, but she is in a very tough spot in an extremely complicated situation. It is also a very tragic situation. No matter what solution Colette may find, no good can come of this.

This is a very tense, complex film. To get the most out of it, I need to see it with subtitles. The Irish and English accents in it were hard for me to understand at times. I was able to follow the plot generally, but some of the specifics probably eluded me. With a plot this complex, I need all the help I can get to understand all the spoken dialog.

The acting in this film is very good. The plot is lean and powerful. It is pretty depressing, but it seems true enough in its depiction of this troubled period of history. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2013 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)