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The Dancer Upstairs (2002)

Cast: Javier Bardem, Javier Bardem, Juan Diego Botto, more...
Director: John Malkovich, John Malkovich
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Foreign, Spain, Political Thriller
Running Time: 135 min.
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Actor John Malkovich made his directorial debut with this tense political thriller, set in an unnamed Latin American nation and based on a novel by Nicholas Shakespeare. Agustin Rejas (Javier Bardem) is a former lawyer who became a police detective as a more direct way of dealing with crime and justice. Rejas has been assigned to investigate a group of terrorists who are determined to up-end the current government through any means necessary, from revolting pranks (such as leaving dead animals, painted with revolutionary rhetoric, around the capitol building) to bombings and assassinations. Rejas knows little about the terrorists, and no one on the force is certain of the identity or whereabouts of the group's leader, who calls himself President Ezequiel. As Rejas learns more about Ezequiel and his group, they begin stepping up their actions, making his investigation all the more urgent. Meanwhile, Rejas is a man whose daughter is taking dance lessons from Yolanda (Laura Morante); as Rejas and Yolanda get to know one another, a romance begins to grow between them, but in time, Rejas begins to suspect that the woman he loves is working with the terrorists he's been trying to ferret out. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Well done by muadib11 July 13, 2004 - 9:35 AM PDT
2 out of 6 members found this review helpful
I loved this film. It was well done, with great scenic photography and great character development. I was kept on the edge of my seat throughout the film. I really think that the main character is one who just does his duty and nothing more. He gets the chance to have the ultimately power and yet passes it aside as if it were nothing more than a nuisance. Malkovich did a great job on this film.

good film by lwu81 June 10, 2004 - 1:31 PM PDT
1 out of 3 members found this review helpful
very violent. But I feel the violence is especially relevant these days with all the focus our media has on terrorists in the middle east. while this story is not set in the middle east (it's set in latin america), you have to imagine that this terrorist violence is not so far off from the experiences you read about in the news.

A good story, thoroughly enjoyable.

about the man by dybevick October 20, 2003 - 9:25 AM PDT
5 out of 6 members found this review helpful
I very much enjoyed this film, and think that many of the critiques I have read missed the most enjoyably subtle point of the film.

Rejas, as we learn gradually through the film, is a man who stands at the cusp of great power, partly because of his character and partly because of the pure chance intersections his life with that of the revolutionary Ezequiel as well as the President. Rejas however, does not want to be powerful.

At the risk of sounding like a complete ass, I will go out on a limb and say that things in this movie unfold with a distinctly "latin sensibility", and "latin pace" for that matter. The audience's job is to come to understand Rejas through the lens of the crushing events surrounding our brief acquaintance with him, and he does not think or act as we have been trained to expect the protagonist of such a movie might. You could call this the biography of a man who got as close to famous as you can get without stepping over the line.

Very beautifully filmed, both city and country locations were a treat, and the climactic scene had my heart racing, even though it was not loud or fast, and made up for the lulling pace of the previous hour and a half.

I expected more than one moment to be the end of the movie, but in the end was pleased by the extended denouement, as it let me slip right back into "real life" along with Rejas.

I look forward whatever Malkovich brings next. I think he has a distinctive touch.

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GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.17)
69 Votes
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Spiritually inclined or another look at life
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