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The Dancer Upstairs (2002)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller, Crime  |  20 September 2002 (Spain)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 5,298 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 71 user | 88 critic | 40 from Metacritic.com

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

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Agustín Rejas
...
Sucre
...
Yolanda
...
Llosa
Alexandra Lencastre ...
Sylvina Rejas
...
Merino
Luís Miguel Cintra ...
Calderón
Javier Manrique ...
Clorindo
Abel Folk ...
Ezequiel / Durán
Marie-Anne Berganza ...
Laura
Lucas Rodríguez ...
Gómez
Xabier Elorriaga ...
Pascual
...
Marina
...
Santiago
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:

Drama | Thriller | Crime

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

20 September 2002 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

Sendero de sangre  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$106,142 (USA) (2 May 2003)

Gross:

$2,374,732 (USA) (15 August 2003)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the beginning of the film, one of the revolutionaries tells a checkpoint security guard that his dead dog's name is Tupac. Tupac Amaru was the last indigenous leader of the Inca people in Peru and Tupac Amaru II was the leader of the 1780s uprising in colonial day Cusco, Peru. (The late hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur is named after the latter). See more »

Goofs

In the garbage scene, soon after the Marxism book is mentioned, the female cop changes positions in between shots. See more »

Quotes

Agustín Rejas: I'd like to have a list of staff with access to the President's chambers.
Calderón: Luckily there are only two of them. The first is named 'Fuck', the second is named 'Off'.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Featured in Revealing 'The Dancer Upstairs' (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Pearl Curtain in the Moon
Written by Liping Wang (as Wang Liping) and Wu Ming Xiao Zi
(SSS 034CD /17; Sonoton Creative Sound Solutions)
© Sonoton Music GmbH & Co. KG
Authorized by Multimusic, S.L.
See more »

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User Reviews

Plod got there in the end - no fancy steps required
5 July 2003 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

I suppose this could be described as an off-Hollywood detective story with political overtones. It is based on a book by Nicholas Shakespeare (a part-time Australian) who has in turn loosely based his story on the rise and fall of the `Shining Path' or Sendero Luminoso insurgency in Peru (1980-1995). As rendered on film (Shakespeare also wrote the screenplay), we have an immensely likable policemen, Rejas, played to perfection by Javier Bardem, literally searching through the rubbish to find the shadowy Ezequiel, leader of a movement with a fine record of atrocities, but no program or real philosophy.

Nicholas, alas, is no Shakespeare, and the film becomes very slow in parts, though there are plenty of dramatic moments and some crisp editing. Bardem gets good support from some of the other actors such as Juan Diego Botto who plays his sidekick Sucre and Laura Morante as Yolanda the enigmatic ballet teacher he becomes involved with. Most of the cast are Spanish but the prodution was filmed in English, which has created an intermittent audibility problem. The film is also beautifully shot, the locations in Ecuador and Oporto, Portugal, being used to great advantage.

While the film succeeds quite well as a detective story it telegraphs too many punches to work as a thriller. However it's the politics that really let it down. Clearly, we have a not very nice, if elected, government under attack, and it's almost inevitable that the even more not very nice Army is going to step in. Against who? People who load up dogs with dynamite and send them in to crowded marketplaces. People who send in 10 year olds into village cafes to blow up themselves along with some local notables. The explanation for this comes only in one-liners such as `I am already dead, I live only for the revolution.' When Ezequiel, the former philosophy lecturer is finally captured, all he can say is `You cannot capture this ` (tapping his forehead). `We are already part of history.' Surely there is a better explanation for `Shining Path' than this. My own theory is that it is a rather nasty combination of French post-modern philosophy (Derrida, Foucault etc) mixed up with Marxism and Maoism and served up to people with not much to lose. If you are already dead you might as well die for the revolution. It's either that or slave for the whites.

Actually, `Shining Path' had some competition in the shape of Tupac Amaru, who captured the Japanese Embassy in Lima and held 70 or so people hostage for over 4 months in 1996-97, until being overwhelmed by Peruvian commandos who tunnelled in beneath them. None of the guerrillas survived. By the time I visited Lima and the Cuzco area in late 2000 all was quiet on the revolutionary front, though President Fujimori, hero of the embassy siege, despite having won a recent election was on his way out. I haven't read it yet, but I'm told Gustavo Gorriti's `The Shining Path: A History of the Millenarian War in Peru' is a good history of the era.

Maybe it's asking too much for political explanations, though the director clearly wants the film to be compared with Costa-Gravas' excellent `State of Siege' (which is shown briefly at one point and provides a vital clue as to Ezequiel's location). As to the direction, Malkovich seems a little uncertain whether he is making a thriller or something more reflective but he has a good sense of dramatic timing and a good visual sense. Perhaps more attention to the editing would have sharpened up the mood.


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