6.9/10
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74 user 91 critic

The Dancer Upstairs (2002)

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A police detective in a South American country is dedicated to hunting down a revolutionary guerilla leader.

Director:

John Malkovich

Writers:

Nicholas Shakespeare (novel), Nicholas Shakespeare (screenplay)
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Javier Bardem ... Agustín Rejas
Juan Diego Botto ... Sucre
Laura Morante ... Yolanda
Elvira Mínguez ... Llosa
Alexandra Lencastre ... Sylvina Rejas
Oliver Cotton ... Merino
Luís Miguel Cintra Luís Miguel Cintra ... Calderón
Javier Manrique ... Clorindo
Abel Folk ... Ezequiel / Durán
Marie-Anne Berganza Marie-Anne Berganza ... Laura
Lucas Rodríguez Lucas Rodríguez ... Gómez
Xabier Elorriaga ... Pascual
Natalia Dicenta ... Marina
Wolframio Sinué ... Santiago
Ramiro Jiménez Ramiro Jiménez ... Sergeant Pisac
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Storyline

The story of Detective Agustin Rejas, a man clinging to the hope of an impossible love in an impossible world. Tracking Ezequiel, a delusional anarchist who incites the downtrodden masses to join in his brutal revolution against the fascist government in their unnamed Latin American country, Rejas finds solace in his sense of self-respect and the joy that his daughter and wife bring him. Then he meets Yolanda--his daughter's soulfully beautiful ballet teacher--a woman who sparks his long-forgotten passions and represents all that is good and all that is corrupt in their troubled country. But she, who appears to be a shelter from the storm, may in actuality be the storm's eye. Ultimately, as the revolution intensifies and the net closes around hunter and hunted alike, the dancer's truth will prove as elusive as the revolutionary's cause and the detective's peace. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

An honest man caught in a world of intrigue, power and passion.

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Spain | USA

Language:

English | Quechua | Spanish

Release Date:

23 May 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sendero de sangre See more »

Filming Locations:

Ecuador See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$106,142, 4 May 2003

Gross USA:

$2,377,348

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,227,348
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The story is inspired by the Maoist insurgency in Peru known as the Shining Path. Its leader Abimael Guzmán, who was known by the nom de guerre President Gonzalo, was captured in an apartment above a ballet studio in the capital city of Lima in 1992. The ballet teacher Yolanda was based on Maritza Garrido Lecca, the woman in whose apartment Guzmán was found. Bardem's character was inspired by Benedicto Jimenez and Gen. Antonio Ketin Vidal, the leading figures responsible for Guzmán's capture. See more »

Goofs

There is a scene were Javier (the main cop) and Yolanda are talking about judging characters, Javier has the book in his hands. One shot, the camera is on Javier then goes back to Yolanda. In between those two shots, Yolanda's position changes. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Indian 1 in Pick-up: [calmly after hitting road-side cop, about person on radio] Why does she talk so much?
Ezequiel: [equally calm] She's preparing to sing.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The producers would like to thank ... the residents of Narcisos Street ... See more »

Connections

References Zorba the Greek (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Awadouni
(1998)
Written by Amr Tantawy and Abdel Moneim Taha
Performed by Amr Diab (as Amr Diab)
Authorised by Alam El Phan Co.
See more »

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User Reviews

imperfect but intriguing crime drama
3 January 2004 | by Buddy-51See all my reviews

Actor John Malkovich makes an auspicious directorial debut with `The Dancer Upstairs,' an intriguing, if not altogether satisfying, police procedural set in an unnamed Latin American country.

Javier Bardem (`Night Must Fall') gives a richly textured performance as Detective Augustin Rejas, a man of principle and ethics operating in a world of corruption and violence. Rejas finds himself embroiled in a life-and-death mystery when he investigates an underground terrorist organization that is targeting key government officials for assassination. Who these people are is not at all clear to those in charge and even their motives can only be guessed at. As Rejas studies the clues in search of answers, he becomes drawn to a beautiful young dance teacher with whom he establishes a platonic yet highly charged romantic relationship. It is in the bringing together of these two seemingly disparate plot lines that the movie fails, ultimately, to satisfy. For roughly the first three quarters of the film, as Rejas collects his evidence and unravels the puzzle, we gladly go along where the filmmakers are taking us, fascinated by the setting, the atmosphere and the contemporary relevance of the terrorism theme. But when, towards the end, the story kicks into high tragedy mode, the movie loses us, partly because the plotting itself is not particularly credible and partly because the relationship between Rejas and the woman has not been sufficiently developed to achieve the status of genuine tragedy. The film is much better when it sticks to the business of the case and leaves all the existential navel-gazing out of the mix.

This is not to demean either the moving, beautifully modulated performance of Bardem or the stark, self-assured direction of Malkovich, who shows he knows how to function as well behind the camera as he does in front. True, the film is a trifle slow at times but this just shows that Malkovich will not be rushed when the material itself demands deliberation and care. Although the movie is about a half hour too long, real languor begins to set in only during the final stretches. Until then, `The Dancer Upstairs' makes for rewarding viewing.


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