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The Dancer Upstairs
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The Dancer Upstairs (2002) More at IMDbPro »

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The Dancer Upstairs -- This taut political thriller set in Latin America marks John Malkovich's explosive directorial debut.  Academy Award winner Javier Bardem stars as legit policeman Agustin Rejas, who faces the greatest challenge of his career - to catch the leader of a terrorist movement threatening to collapse his government, while being stopped at every turn by his own corrupt superiors.  As the fight becomes more ferocious, Rejas' search brings him ever closer to the guerrilla leader.  But when, amidst the chaos, he falls in love with his daughter's ballet teacher (Laura Morante), Rejas must choose between his heart, his country, and his own well-being.
The Dancer Upstairs -- A police detective in a South American country is dedicated to hunting down a revolutionary guerilla leader.
The Dancer Upstairs -- A police detective in a South American country is dedicated to hunting down a revolutionary guerilla leader.


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Release Date:
23 May 2003 (USA) See more »
An honest man caught in a world of intrigue, power and passion.
A police detective in a South American country is dedicated to hunting down a revolutionary guerilla leader. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
1 win & 3 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
An Actor's Showcase and an Excellent Thriller See more (71 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Javier Bardem ... Agustín Rejas

Juan Diego Botto ... Sucre

Laura Morante ... Yolanda

Elvira Mínguez ... Llosa
Alexandra Lencastre ... Sylvina Rejas

Oliver Cotton ... Merino
Luís Miguel Cintra ... Calderón
Javier Manrique ... Clorindo
Abel Folk ... Ezequiel / Durán
Marie-Anne Berganza ... Laura
Lucas Rodríguez ... Gómez
Xabier Elorriaga ... Pascual

Natalia Dicenta ... Marina

Wolframio Sinué ... Santiago
Ramiro Jiménez ... Sergeant Pisac
Montserrat Astudillo ... Woman in Pick-up - Edith Pusanga
Galo Urbina ... Indian 1 in Pick-up
Jairon Flores ... Indian 2 in Pick-up
Lam Chuen ... Major Kwan
José Antonio Izaguirre ... Quesada
Isabel Prinz ... Quesada's Wife
Ignacio Carreño ... Quesada's Bodyguard
Benjamas Boonnak ... Chinese Ambassadress
Tito García ... Admiral Prado
Veronica Noboa ... Model (as Verónica Noboa)
Luis Gaspar ... Judge
Steve Emerson ... TV Producer
Carlos Carrillo ... TV Technician
Eusebio Lázaro ... Father Ramon
Paulina Aguilar ... Shanty Girl
Esteban Salazar ... Shanty Policeman
German Nuñez ... Manager (as German Núñez)
Pachacutic Chugchilan ... Bomb Boy

Juan Carlos Vellido ... Soldier 1 in Rejas' Office
Diego Naranjo ... Captain Montesinos
Montserrat Iglesias ... Student / Voice of Radio Announcer
Celina Casari ... Maria
Maribel Rivera ... Patricia
Ignacio Durán ... Theatre Manager
Frida Torresblanco ... Woman in Theatre
Ana Lozano ... Vera
Lola Peno ... Nurse
Javier Páez ... Army Colonel
David Aguilar ... Boy with a Poster
Raquel Rocha ... Woman in Convertible
Alexis Rodrigues ... Man in Convertible
Daniel Aguilar ... CocaCola Cap
Yousaf Bokhari ... Radio Announcer (voice)
Natalia Tarnawiecki ... Radio Announcer (voice)
Carlos Thiebaut ... Radio Announcer (voice)
Nuevo Repertorio ... Theatre Group
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Vivian Agüero ... Student (uncredited)
Nur Al Levi ... (uncredited)
Yohana Cobo ... Terrorista (uncredited)
Olga Dias ... Woman in Café Esplanade (uncredited)

Alicia Garrigues ... Actress (uncredited)
Ricardo Lopes ... Journalist (uncredited)
Joana Loureiro ... Lady (uncredited)

John Malkovich ... Abimael Guzman (uncredited)
Devon Walker ... Ballet Dancer Prodigy (uncredited)

Directed by
John Malkovich 
Writing credits
Nicholas Shakespeare (novel)

Nicholas Shakespeare (screenplay)

Produced by
Yousaf Bokhari .... line producer
Andrés Vicente Gómez .... producer
Lianne Halfon .... executive producer
Nadine Luque .... associate producer
John Malkovich .... producer
Russell Smith .... executive producer (as Russ Smith)
Original Music by
Alberto Iglesias 
Cinematography by
José Luis Alcaine (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Mario Battistel 
Casting by
Katrina Bayonas 
Camilla-Valentine Isola 
Production Design by
Pierre-François Limbosch  (as Pierre-François Limbosh)
Art Direction by
Pierre-François Limbosch (uncredited)
Set Decoration by
Laura Musso 
Costume Design by
Bina Daigeler 
Makeup Department
Lucy Da Silva .... assistant makeup artist: Ecuador
Manolo García .... hair stylist
Ana Lozano .... makeup designer
Mariló Osuna .... key makeup artist
Production Management
Adélaide Empis .... production manager: Portugal (as Adelaide Empis)
Josean Gómez .... production supervisor: Ecuador
Guiselle Jaramillo .... unit manager: Ecuador
Rui Louro .... production supervisor: Portugal
Ana Parra .... unit manager: Madrid
Iñaki Ros .... production manager: Madrid
Pocho Álvarez .... production manager: Ecuador
Frida Torresblanco .... production supervisor (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
João Cayatte .... assistant director: Portugal (as Joao Cayatte)
Diego Falconi .... third assistant director: Ecuador
César Fernandes .... third assistant director: Portugal (as Cesar Fernandes)
Daniela Forn .... second assistant director
David Martínez .... first assistant director
Rita Rubio .... third assistant director: Madrid
Art Department
José Avilés .... prop buyer: Ecuador
José Carracedo .... stand-by props (as Jota Carracedo)
Susanna Fernàndez .... art department assistant: Madrid (as Susana Fernández)
Roberto Frisone .... art director: Ecuador
Fernando Garcia .... construction manager: Ecuador
Juan Manuel Garcia .... props assistant: Madrid
Serafín González .... stagehand
Pablo Iturralde .... stand-by props: Ecuador
Fernando Jiménez .... construction manager: Ecuador
Javier López .... propman: Madrid (as Fco. Javier López)
Marcelo Mejia .... propsman: Ecuador
Laura Musso .... set dresser: Madrid
Victor Rodríguez .... graphic designer: Madrid
María Lourdes Rosero .... assistant art director: Ecuador (as Mª Lourdes Rosero)
Nuria Sanjuan .... art director: Madrid
José M. Serrano .... prop buyer: Madrid (as José Mariano Serrano)
Sound Department
Paolo Amici .... sound effects editor: Ecuador
Antonio Bloch .... production sound
Italo Cameracanna .... foley artist: Ecuador
Jordi Casugas .... adr recordist: Ecuador
Fernando Cuesta .... cable person: Ecuador
Bela María da Costa .... sound editor (as Bela Da Costa)
Marco De Gregori .... digital sound: pro-tools (as Marco De Gregory)
Enzo Diliberto .... foley artist: Ecuador (as Enzo Di Liberto)
Sara Fijo .... boom operator
Ángel Gallardo .... adr recordist: Ecuador
Arturo Garcia Martin .... adr editor: Ecuador (as Arturo García)
Carlos Garrido .... sound re-recordist
Diego Garrido .... sound re-recordist: Ecuador
Antonello Giorgiucci .... adr recordist: Ecuador
Ezio Marcorin .... sound effects editor: Ecuador
Marco Marinelli .... sound effects editor: Ecuador
Massimo Marinelli .... sound effects editor: Ecuador
Daniele Quadroli .... sound effects editor: Ecuador
David Quadroli .... sound effects editor
Ricardo Viñas .... consultant: Dolby
Roberto Cappannelli .... sound re-recording mixer (uncredited)
James A. Puig .... sound consultant: Dolby (uncredited)
Ken Teaney .... sound re-recording mixer (uncredited)
Special Effects by
César Abades .... special effects technician
Reyes Abades .... special effects
César Bustamante .... special effects assistant: Ecuador
Alfonso López .... special effects assistant: Ecuador
Juan Serrano .... special effects technician: Reyes Abades SFX (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
Jorge Calvo .... digital effects: Mad Pix Company
Pilar Cienfuegos .... 3D artist: Mad Pix Company
Isaac de la Pompa .... 3D artist: Mad Pix Company (as Isaac De La Pompa)
Juancho Fernández .... Inferno compositor: Mad Pix Company
Ramón Guzmán .... Inferno compositor: Mad Pix Company
Juan Ramón Herrero .... Inferno compositor: Mad Pix Company
Ezequiel Larrú .... Inferno compositor: Mad Pix Company
Rubén Villoria .... 3D artist: Mad Pix Company
José Miguel Zapata .... 3D artist: Mad Pix Company
David Andrade .... stunts: Ecuador
Mónica Consuegra .... stunt artist: Madrid
Miguel García .... stunt artist: Madrid
José María López .... stunt artist: Madrid (as José Mª López)
Ángel Plana .... stunt coordinator: Madrid
Manolo Torres .... stunt artist: Madrid
Sergio del Val .... stunt artist: Madrid (as Sergio Del Val)
Jorge Huergo .... stunts (uncredited)
Diego Álvarez .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Juan Aragonés .... clapper loader: "b" camera, Portugal
José Luis Arcos .... electrician: Portugal (as José Arcos)
Paola Ardizzoni .... still photographer
Jaime Avellaneda .... grip: Ecuador
Iñigo Bach .... electrician: Madrid
Iñigo Bach .... grip: Madrid
Joaquín Barrero .... camera operator: making-of
Luis Chalacán .... electrician: Ecuador
Cristobal Corral .... still photographer: Ecuador
Rodrigo Cueva .... grip: Ecuador
Luis Miguel Daza .... key grip
Jon Elicegi .... video operator
Juan C. Faidutti .... electrician: Ecuador
Elías Fernández .... electrician: Madrid
Alfredo González .... electrician: Madrid
Augusto Gómes .... electrician: Portugal
Luis Herrera .... video operator: Ecuador
Aarón López .... clapper loader: "a" camera (as Aaron López)
Emiliano Merino .... gaffer
Francisco Javier Merino .... electrician: Portugal (as Javier Merino)
Miguel Molina .... electrician: Ecuador
Juan C. Moreto .... electrician: Ecuador
Luis Muñoz .... electrician: Portugal
Tote Navalón .... focus puller: "b" camera
Ana María Ormaza .... camera loader: "b" camera, Ecuador
Fernando Paredes .... electrician: Ecuador
Félix Pascual .... electrician: Madrid
Jimy Pazmiño .... grip: Ecuador (as Jimmy Pazmiño)
Rui Poças .... camera operator: "b" camera
Jako Raybaut .... camera operator: "a" camera (as Jacques Raybaut)
Alfredo Salazar .... video operator: Ecuador
Joao Filipe Santos .... electrician: Portugal
Fernando Silva .... electrician: Portugal
Nicolai Soria .... grip: Ecuador
Goyo Sánchez .... focus puller: "a" camera
Marcelo Vallejo .... grip: Ecuador
Animation Department
Miguel A.S. Cogolludo .... animator: Kandor Graphics
Javier Fernandez .... animator: Kandor Graphics
O. Jiménez .... animator: Kandor Graphics
Daniel Marcos Perujo .... animator: Kandor Graphics (as D. Marcos)
Jose Luis Navarro .... animator: Kandor Graphics (as J.L. Navarro)
Raul Perez .... animator: Kandor Graphics (as R. Pérez)
José Rozúa .... animator: Kandor Graphics (as J.L. Rozúa)
Manuel Sicilia .... animator: Kandor Graphics (as M. Sicilia)
Casting Department
Tiago Mesquita .... extras casting
Galo Urbina .... extras casting assistant: Ecuador
Jorge Vivanco .... extras casting: Ecuador
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Jeremy Capilla .... wardrobe assistant: Ecuador
Raquel del Val .... wardrobe assistant (as Raquel Del Val)
Lily Flor .... wardrobe assistant: Ecuador
Ana López .... costumer
Rosa López .... seamstress: Madrid (as Rosa Mª López)
Silvia Meireles .... wardrobe assistant
Ana Salazar .... wardrobe assistant: Ecuador
Editorial Department
Irene Blecua .... assistant editor: Eduador
Patricia Bonet .... post-production assistant: Eduador
Elsa Fernández .... second assistant editor: Ecuador
Ascen Marchena .... assistant editor: Ecuador
Nino Martínez Sosa .... second assistant editor: Ecuador
Simon Njoo .... assistant editor: Ecuador
Dimas Ortiz .... second assistant editor: Ecuador
Cristina Pastor .... assistant editor: Ecuador
Aitor Tapia .... second assistant editor: Ecuador
Nicholas Wentworth .... executive in charge of post-production
Music Department
Pedro Alcalde .... conductor
Kolja Blacher .... musician: violin
Javier Casado .... musician: piano
José Luis Crespo .... music editor
José Luis Crespo .... music score engineer
Clarissa Farrán .... score copyist
Raquel Fernández .... assistant music scoring engineer
Juanjo Guillén .... musician: percussion
Christian Gómez .... music coordinator: Ecuador
Wolfgang Hoff .... music studio manager: SFB - Berlin
Sonia Lozano .... music production assistant
Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid .... performed by
Ekkehard Stoffregen .... music studio manager: SFB - Berlin
Dominik Wollenweber .... musician: English horn
Transportation Department
Antonio Fernández .... generator driver: Madrid
Juan Carlos Fuentes .... caravan driver: Madrid (as J. Carlos Fuentes)
Julián Hernández .... wardrobe truck driver: Madrid
Miguel Ángel López .... electric truck driver: Madrid
Javier Montero .... driver
Bernardino Villanueva .... driver: camera van, Madrid
Other crew
Roberto Aguirre .... location manager: Ecuador
Rita Almada .... production assistant: Portugal
Maria Carmen Arellano .... production runner: Ecuador (as Mª Carmen Arellano)
Juan C. Barahona .... production assistant: Ecuador
Sonia Barral .... production assistant
Olga Blázquez .... production secretary
Sandino Burbano .... floor runner: Ecuador
M. Conceição Cabral .... production secretary: Portugal
Alberto Calderón .... coach: Quechua
Paco G. Campoy .... director: making-of
Carlos G. Castro .... assistant: making-of
Ion Collar .... production assistant: Madrid
Ana Paula Cruz .... production assistant: Portugal
Victor Domingos .... military advisor: Portugal
Steve Emerson .... dialogue coach
Ana Escribano .... contact liaison
Ana Escribano .... production assistant
José Manuel Fernández .... accountant
Daniel Ferreira .... production runner: Portugal
Domingo González .... continuity
Belén Goñi .... assistant accountant (as Bélen Goñi)
Javier Gómez .... production assistant: Madrid
Mary Jamison .... adr dialogue coach: Ecuador
Lucila Lema .... coach: Quechua, Ecuador
Roberto Mancino .... production runner: Ecuador
Fernanda Marreiros .... cashier: Portugal
Margarita McDermott .... production coordinator (as Margarita Mcdermott)
Tito Molina .... floor runner: Ecuador
Goyo Montero .... choreographer
Víctor Mínguez .... production assistant: Madrid (as Victor Minguez)
Nuno Oliveira'Konadu' .... production runner/driver
Pablo Núñez .... main and end titles: Story Film
Renato Ortega .... production coordinator: Ecuador
Verónica Parada .... production secretary: Ecuador
José Pichel .... location manager: Portugal
André Principe .... production runner: Portugal
Mauricio Samaniego .... floor runner: Ecuador
Fernando Silva .... production runner: Portugal
Jay Simon .... adr dialogue
Eva Sklar .... publicist
Diogo Soveral .... production runner: Portugal
Miguel Stocker .... production assistant: Portugal
Valerie Vaca .... production assistant: Ecuador
César Vallejo .... cashier: Ecuador
Cristina Velasco .... matchback assistant: Ecuador
Filipe Verde .... production assistant: Portugal
James Ordonez .... production liaison: Ecuador (uncredited)
José Ramón Zabaleta .... production assistant (uncredited)
D. Luis Alfredo Muñoz .... thanks: Head of Customs - Quito
Fernando Méndez-Leite .... thanks (as D. Fernando Méndez Leite)
Michèle Ray-Gavras .... grateful acknowledgment: "State of Diege" by Costa Gavras
Cristina Rota .... thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated R for strong violence, and for language
132 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

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 »
Continuity: In the garbage scene, soon after the Marxism book is mentioned, the female cop changes positions in between shots.See more »
[Rejas and Sucre are looking at a dead dog hanging from a lamp-post, with dynamite stuck down its throat]
Sucre:What sort of a person would do that?
Agustín Rejas:I don't know, but I wouldn't entirely rule out a cat-lover.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Revealing 'The Dancer Upstairs' (2003) (V)See more »
Viagens InterditasSee more »


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35 out of 38 people found the following review useful.
An Actor's Showcase and an Excellent Thriller, 5 July 2005
Author: eht5y from United States

'The Dancer Upstairs' marks John Malkovich's debut as a film director, but it's hardly his first time in the director's chair: Malkovich was a charter member of the now-prestigious Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago, where he split time between acting and directing, developing the versatility that has earned him regard as one of the best character actors in the business. He brings a stage director's consciousness to this fine, unexpectedly suspenseful and complex thriller, a fictionalized dramatization of events surrounding the rise and fall of the Shining Path revolutionary movement in Peru.

In the lead role of Detective Augustin Rejas is Javier Bardem, already an established star in his native Spain who is gaining increasingly wide notice in the US for his award-winning turns in Julian Schnabel's 'Before Night Falls' (2002) and Alejandro Amenabar's 'The Sea Inside' (2004). Bardem, like Malkovich, is a wonderfully versatile actor, and this film offers him another fine opportunity to display his range as Rejas, an idealistic police detective who abandoned a promising career as a trial lawyer in the hope that he might be able to work within the system to heal the corruption of his native country (left unnamed, though the story clearly borrows from actual events in Peru).

The film opens on the high plains at the foothills of the Andes, with Rejas working at a highway checkpoint station. He encounters a vehicle bearing a mysterious undocumented passenger. While Rejas follows procedure, his colleague accepts a bribe, and allows the vehicle to flee the scene.

Years later, Rejas has advanced through the ranks and now works as a detective in the nation's coastal capital. He and his partner Sucre (Juan Diego Botto, making the most of a small role) gradually begin to discover evidence of a burgeoning revolutionary movement led by the enigmatic 'Presidente Ezequiel,' whom Rejas eventually realizes to be the same man he met briefly years earlier at the mountain checkpoint. The followers of Ezequiel--a former college professor and Marxist who went underground ten years earlier to foment a 'fourth wave' of communist revolution (the first three being the USSR, China, and Cuba)--begin to terrorize the capital and outlying regions with suicide bombings and brutal assassinations. Rejas must uncover the secret of Ezequiel before the President enacts martial law and turns the government into another version of the brutal dictatorships previously seen in Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.

As the Ezequiel mystery deepens, Rejas begins to develop an infatuation with his daughter's ballet instructor, Yolanda (Laura Morante), with who he shares an unspoken bond and who seems to be an attractive alternative to his own wife (Alexandre Lencastre), a sweet but superficial woman who obsesses over fashion magazines and makeup and begs her perpetually broke husband to let her get a nose job. Rejas begins to court Yolanda, and as he becomes more deeply involved with her, he begins to discover evidence that she may be knowingly or unknowingly connected in some way to Ezequiel.

The political dimension of the story is fascinating, but the main source of conflict is the interior world of Rejas, a sensitive, morally decent man who is torn between his faith in the law and his sympathy for the people who suffer at the hands of corrupt government officials. Rejas is also torn between his sense of honor and decency and his profound emotional attraction to Yolanda. It's a tough role to pull off, and Malkovich gives Bardem the time and opportunity to draw the character's emotional complexity with subtle, patient, expressive moments and line deliveries. Bardem has the rare ability to convey distinct emotions or states of thought with subtle gestures and nuanced facial expressions, and Malkovich demonstrates an actor's trust in another gifted actor to accomplish the film's emotional subtext.

There are a few problems here and there. Rejas' attraction to Yolanda is understandable, but their burgeoning relationship feels a bit forced and underdeveloped at times. A subplot involving the Chinese embassy is introduced but left more or less unresolved. The plot is vaguely predictable, though, in the film's defense, the suspense has more to do with how Rejas will deal with the revelations his investigation will uncover than with what will actually be revealed.

Even with the flaws, 'The Dancer Upstairs' is a highly intelligent and entertaining film, and offers yet another opportunity for American audiences to become acquainted with the fabulously talented Javier Bardem, who is my pick to be the next Marlon Brando.

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