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.