James Marsh may be best known as the director of the Oscar-winning
documentary Man on Wire, about Philippe
Petit’s tightrope walk between the Twin Towers, and Andrea Riseborough as the
star who actually burnished her reputation by playing Wallis Simpson in Madonna’s
otherwise critically reviled W.E. But
they’ve made something altogether different and wonderful together: the taut,
off-your-guard psychological and political thriller Shadow Dancer.
Riseborough plays Colette, a young mother and IRA member in
1990’s Belfast, carrying a guilty childhood memory that unfolds in the film’s wrenching
opening. When she is caught by MI-5, an agent — played by Clive Owen as an enigmatic man
with a conscience, not your usual secret agent — gives her a choice: inform on
the IRA or go to prison. Colette cooperates — or does she? At the end she comes
down unquestionably and dramatically on one side. As you’ll see in my exclusive
video interview with Marsh and Riseborough, I don’t reveal which side, but I obviously
have a lower threshold for calling “spoiler alert” than they do. (You can find my one-on-one interview with Clive Owen here.)
You’ll also see that they are both terrifically articulate and
thoughtful — not always the case with a director and star out to sell a movie.
Riseborough talks about the importance of the look in her character’s eyes;
both she and Marsh use silence to great effect. And Marsh, talking about the political
violence of the 90’s, recalls that it was not limited to Ireland, but extended to
the entire UK, a “malignant, intractable conflict” always in the
Politics has rarely been as personal as it is for Colette,
which makes Shadow Dancer an astute and powerful emotional drama about loyalty
and betrayal, a film I highly recommend.
Here’s what the director and star had to say.
Video Edited by PERRI SILVER.