British actress Andrea Riseborough is coming into her own as
she builds an impressive résumé—including a high-profile role as Tom Cruise’s
partner in Oblivion. I’m more
accustomed to seeing her in modest British films like the tough new import
called Shadow Dancer.
Clive Owen costars as a British MI-5 officer who catches
Riseborough planting a bomb in the London underground. The year is 1993, and
tensions are running high between the British government and the Irish
Republican Army. A childhood incident radicalized Riseborough for life, but now
she’s raising a son and has to think of his safety. Owen works hard to recruit
her as an informer—instead of throwing her in prison—and promises to protect
her and her boy. She has little choice, but informing on her own family puts
her in an untenable position.
Tom Bradby adapted his novel for the screen, and director
James Marsh makes everything about the story seem real, on both sides, showing
the anger and commitment of the Irish rebels and the internecine conflicts on
the British side, with Gillian Anderson as Owen’s unflappable superior. It’s a quiet
film that demands careful attention, but Riseborough’s terrific performance in
the leading role makes it well worth seeing.