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The Dancer Upstairs
The Dancer Upstairs
Actors: Montserrat Astudillo, Javier Bardem, Marie-Anne Berganza, Juan Diego Botto, Luís Miguel Cintra
Director: John Malkovich
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2003     2hr 12min

This taut political thriller set in Latin America marks John Malkovich's explosive directorial debut. Academy Award nominee Javier Bardem (Best Actor, 2000 - Before Night Falls) stars as legit policeman Agustin Rejas, who ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Montserrat Astudillo, Javier Bardem, Marie-Anne Berganza, Juan Diego Botto, Luís Miguel Cintra
Director: John Malkovich
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/23/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 2hr 12min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, French, Spanish, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Member Movie Reviews

Sharon F. (Shar) from AVON PARK, FL
Reviewed on 9/29/2022...
Sensual, mystery movie. It was a little slow in places.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jennifer B. from ALLENTOWN, PA
Reviewed on 3/30/2010...
Great movie!

Movie Reviews

Slow, beautiful, thinker's movie
Carol Toscano | New York City | 06/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Though this movie is slow moving and quiet, it is one of the finest films I've seen in forever. Javier Bardem is amazing. No question. The music is spare but affecting (and one of the most memorable parts of this film). I don't want to give away any of the plot but this is a real thinker's love story (in the midst of a terrorist revolution-in-the-making backdrop), smart, brilliant, surprising in every way without gratuitous sex scenes and cheesy, predictable "happily ever after" endings. Malkovich is a genius. Bardem makes you feel his pain. A must see for any smart film lover. Can't recommend enough."
Perfect, and Timely, Entertainment for the Thinking Viewer
Danusha Goska | Bloomington, IN | 12/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Many viewers simply didn't *get* this movie.These are the folks who called it slow, too restrained, confusing.For the thinking viewer, this movie is not slow, and it is not confusing. It is a visual feast that leaves the mind, and soul, reeling; it is a puzzle that stays unfinished just long enough to make its points, and then closes with a heartbreakingly poignant finale. It is a tightly plotted, emotionally moving film that can be taken on several levels: as a political thriller, as a police procedural, as a meditation on the pleasures of domestic life v. extramarital passion.Most powerfully, though, this film talks about, and parallels, explosions -- the explosions of art, of politics, of terrorism, and of passion -- v. restraint. The restraint, for example, of a good man trying to live a decent life in a broken world. It's hard to talk about this film's most brilliant moments without giving away the whole plot, and that you don't want to do, because this movie's surprises are well worth it.But one can say -- watch how Malkovich uses the color red. Watch how he uses bars, as if the bars of a cage, when shooting Javier Bardem. Notice parallels, including in a scene where a young girl dances before a series of reflecting mirrors. Note the music she dances to. Notice who is the sole person ever to have photographed a certain elusive terrorist. Note references to Kant, most famous for his "Critique of Pure Reason."No, this film is no art house puzzle. But it does offer more than the pure pleasure and visual excitement of a nail biting political thriller, which it offers as well.It offers us food for thought about one of the biggest issues of the day -- terrorism.Is it ever right, this film asks, to give in to one's momentary passion and explode, either literally or metaphorically, when confronted with a variety of stimuli, from finding the love of your life, even if you're married to someone else, to having your coffee plantation seized by government troops?And, what kind of person has something in common with a terrorist, anyway? The answer the film offers might surprise you.I loved this movie. I wish more of my fellow viewers had gotten it. This film, in addition to being simply beautiful and entertaining, sets before us some of the biggest questions of the day. Finally, Bardem's performance, a masterpiece of restrained passion and thought, is not to be missed. Malkovich hit the bullseye."
Intelligent and subtle film debut for John Malkovich
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"THE DANCER UPSTAIRS is a fine example of how films conceived and produced by this country can have all the qualities we honor (and hunger for) in foreign films. Based on true events in the late 1980's in Peru, THE DANCER UPSTAIRS is adapted for the screen from the novel by the same name by the author - Nicholas Shakespeare. The story itself is one of extremes in terror, murder, heinous crimes, and all that is associated with terroist activities in a revolutionary framework. Yet Shakespeare has written a screenplay that focuses more on minds of his characters than on their acts. The 'revolutionary' is a professor of philosophy and his nemesis, tracing his identity and capture, is a thinking man's policeman - a lawyer who turned in his black robes to find a better way to discover honesty. Although Malkovich does not spare images that convey the atrocities (children as suicide bombers, slaughtered dogs hanging from the street lamps, mafia-style executions), he does not dwell on them but rather focuses on the impact on the mind of his lead detective. Javier Bardem is the lead actor here and surpasses his previous successes by demonstrating that he is a 'work in progress' - an actor who grows with every difficult assignment he encounters. His sidekick is well acted by Juan Diego Botto, an actor who knows the subtlties of 'supporting role'. The lead women actors, Laura Morente(as the dancer of the title) and Alexandra Lancastre (as Bardem's wife), are as subtle as they are beautiful, making us believe in the inevitable proof of Bardem's human frailty as he forges his imperturable trail toward justice.The accompanying featurettes are involving conversations and commentaries by Nicholas Shakespeare (who actually lived in Lima, Peru while the 'Shining Path' revolution he describes actually was taking place), by John Malkovich regarding his choices of electing to cast his film with an entirely Spanish speaking crew yet speaking in English and for not naming the country or the particular timeframe of the story which he hopes will make the story more a parable than a docudrama, and by Javier Bardem who addresses the difficulties of keeping his character cerebral. And for once these features truly enhance the film's message.It is refreshing to know that movies of this caliber exist and that, hopefully, Malkovich will continue his brave stance as a director of consummate taste and subtlety. Highly Recommended, but be prepared to think."