Set in 1993, IRA soldier Colette McVeigh (Andrea Riseborough) is apprehended while attempting to plant an explosive on the London Underground.
Forced by an MI5 agent (Clive Owen) to become an informant, the young mother in a striking red trenchcoat – of the same hue as Bobby Sands’ jumper – struggles to protect her son and remain covert under the suspicion of the increasingly paranoid paramilitary.
Though Colette’s reasoning for joining the IRA is never given explicitly, the film opens with the death of her younger brother in 1973, who is shot in unseen circumstances on the streets of Belfast. Tom Bradby’s script, an adaptation of his own novel, places Colette’s young son at the centre of domestic life, symbolic of the lost child whose memory still haunts the family.
Director James Marsh (Man on Wire, Project Nim) provokes audience anxiety throughout, balancing the family’s vengeful mourning against the political manoeuvring of the period. As the IRA discusses and anticipates negotiations with the British, the McVeigh family suffer the effects of their deception and mistrust. [David McGinty]