How far would you go to protect your child? Would you betray your beliefs? Your people? Your own family?
That’s the question director James Marsh examines in Shadow Dancer, which stars Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion) as a reluctant Irish terrorist facing 25 years in an English prison if she doesn’t betray her family to MI5. Clive Owen plays her British handler, who presents her with an unthinkable choice if she wants to ever see her young son again.
Owen still has a vivid memory of the Troubles, the decades-old friction between Catholic republicans and Protestant unionists in Northern Ireland that is depicted in the film during a particularly violent spike of violence in the early 1990s. “You look at pictures from that time and Belfast was like a war zone,” Owen told EW last year at Sundance, where the movie premiered. “I just thought the script was politically very interesting because all the characters in the film, to some extent, are kind of trapped in their positions. It’s not about rights and wrongs, and good guys and bad guys. … I think [my character] really believes it when he says to her, ‘We’re in this together. I’m going to be watching your back. You do this and we do it together.’ I think he genuinely believes that, but very quickly the rock is pulled from under him because he realizes she’s very quickly going to be compromised.”
Watch an exclusive clip from the taut thriller, as Owen’s agent explains the rules of the game to his new asset. She wants to know just one thing: his name.
Marsh, who’s best known for his documentaries, notably Project Nim and the Oscar-winning Man on Wire, was inspired by the visual style and suffocating intensity of films like Marnie and Klute. But it was his skills and keen eye as a documentarian that Owen most appreciated. “I’ve been a fan of James’ documentaries and one of the big strengths of this film is James’ choice of locations,” said Owen. “I think it’s one of the great benefits of having a documentary filmmaker make this film because I thought one of the most successful things was how grounded it was and how authentic everything felt.”
Here’s the trailer.
Shadow Dancer is available on demand beginning today and will open theatrically on May 31.