The Dancer Upstairs (2002)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller, Crime  |  23 May 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 5,401 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 71 user | 89 critic | 40 from

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



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



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Agustín Rejas
Alexandra Lencastre ...
Sylvina Rejas
Luís Miguel Cintra ...
Javier Manrique ...
Abel Folk ...
Ezequiel / Durán
Marie-Anne Berganza ...
Lucas Rodríguez ...
Xabier Elorriaga ...
Ramiro Jiménez ...
Sergeant Pisac


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


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


Drama | Thriller | Crime

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:






| |

Release Date:

23 May 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sendero de sangre  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£61,622 (UK) (6 December 2002)


$2,374,732 (USA) (15 August 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The depiction of the dogs hanging was based on an actual occurrence where several dogs were found hanging from street lights in central Lima one December morning with profane messages denouncing Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (who Guzman thought had betrayed the communist revolution). The dynamite inserted into the dogs' bodies was based on rumors that the hanging dogs may have contained explosives, though no explosives were actually found on the dogs when they were cut down. See more »


The camera that Bardem uses to take Ezekiel's picture at the military checkpoint is a either a Polaroid Model 95 made from 1948 to 1953, or the Model 95B was discontinued in 1958. The picture that Bardem holds is a square format SX70 color shot identified buy its square format and black square on the back. This picture which could not have come from the camera used by Bardem. See more »


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 »


References Zorba the Greek (1964) See more »


Who Knows Where the Time Goes
Written by Sandy Denny
Performed by Nina Simone from her album "Black Gold"
Courtesy of BMG, Spain
© Clippers Ediciones Musicales, Barcelona
See more »

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User Reviews

Round Up the Unusual Suspects!
22 June 2003 | by (Queens, NY) – See all my reviews

The film's trailer, which rain endlessly for months in advance at my local art house, and the reviews, etc., have emphasized this as a political thriller. But in fact it's really in the tradition of "Casablanca," where politics is a constant background to only part of the hero's motivation. I did expect someone to say "Round up the usual suspects!"

Awkwardly in this day and age, the Latino actors in the film's unnamed Latin American country (it was filmed in Ecuador and Madrid) all speak (accented) English, with subtitles to indicate when characters are speaking an Indian dialect, i.e. when the hero lawyer/detective is using his heritage to solve the complex case of politically-motivated murders.

But it's the complex layers that make this more interesting than Costa-Gavras' didactic "State of Siege" that is repeatedly referred to as an inspiration, both to director John Malkovich and the revolutionaries, and making this akin to HBO's "The Wire" in showing how a flawed cop can stick to his professionalism amidst deadly-serious bureaucratic and real politics.

The cop's simplistically drawn Beverly Hills matron-type wife turns out to incidentally help him uncover a clue, as he gradually comprehends the cynicism of a revolution that uses unexpected types of cells for suicide missions, with resonance for the MidEast as well, as ideologues are more diabolically dangerous than criminals.

That the dancer is actually downstairs is emblematic of the film's genre confusion.

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