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The Dancer Upstairs
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Dancer Upstairs More at IMDbPro »

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Index 71 reviews in total 

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A great, intriguing thriller

8/10
Author: leapyearcin from United States
26 May 2003

A great, intriguing thriller directed by John Malkovich, filmed in Spain, Portugal, & Ecuador. It's about a police chief who's tasked with identifying the person(s) behind a series of seemingly random terrorist crimes in this unnamed Latin American country, while he struggles to uphold his high ethical ideals in the face of a corrupt government & a shallow, seemingly empty home life. It's mostly in English, but the accents are pretty thick - I'm usually great with accents, but between the weaknesses with the sound & the hearing deficits of my companions, I almost wished they had subtitles for the "english" parts. (Spent too much time trying to translate for my friends.) Enough twists, subtle & not, to keep it interesting without becoming too confusing. References to events in modern latin/developing countries, social & artistic metaphors, and a few sly shots at "first" world-ism. The acting is top notch, the drama well-drawn out: just as you feel your fingers tapping on the chair, thinking "okay, I know this is leading up to something" - you are not disappointed.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

This is a must see for this year.

Author: Robert Tompkins (robertgsr-1) from San Jose, CA
24 May 2003

John Malkovich has done a great job with the cinamatography and the locations. South America, Spain, and Portugal. I especially liked the night scenes and the ones in the beginning shownig the different climates. From Winter type weather to spring.

Excellent choice of actors' and actresses'. With some of the subtle 'one liners' I almost felt John's presence in the movie. Pay special attention to the scene where he is told to find the Ezekiel charachter. The head guy in charge gives some remarkable answers. You can tell he is a loyal servant. (political follower)

Go see this one if you don't see anything else.

Try and overlook the violence, and take it for how it really would be.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Good Face

Author: fnork from USA
17 April 2003

There are many dimensions to movie making. Among them is the subtle one of casting.

The right person for the right part is sometimes overlooked. Take, for instance, Dog Day Afternoon. Suppose Peewee Herman had been cast as the main character instead of Pacino. Result: an unmemorable movie at best.

What does the right casting do for a movie? In most cases it makes it. The long pauses where an actor's face carries a scene, as does Pacino in that particular movie, is the subtlety that can turn ok movie making into something unforgettable.

Realistically, there's no `acting' going on. The person is just standing there while the camera and the nuances of sound and story grab the viewer's attention and hold it. In the viewer's mind is constructed what might be going on in the character's mind. That process is stimulated by the visuals, the actor's persona, and the character's prior development along with the other dimensions of story line, art direction, background music, editing, and maybe direction.

Dancer Upstairs suffers from way too many faults in screenplay, character development, direction and continuity of character to be anything other than a work that disappoints. But what it does do, by happenstance or by design, is to cast a good face to the main character. The long pauses and screen stares along with outstanding work in `being' the character by Javier Bardem make the viewing worth the time.

You have to stumble over incongruous character inconsistencies by the other characters, a story line that seems to ramble in search of an ending and the seemingly irrational nature of obviously ill stitched together editing. You can almost hear the conversations in the editing room, `What if we put this here; yeah, that should work.'

It's a series of filmstrips hung together by a thread of screenplay, not a movie. And Javier gives `good face' among the rubble of Malkovich's near disaster.

We should expect to see more of this sort of attempt, John won't go away, he is sure to 'do it again,' and neither will his forgiving fans as he grows in this craft and hopefully finds a script that offers more of a challenge to all the dimensions of movie making.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Good face

Author: fnork from USA
16 April 2003

There are many dimensions to movie making. Among them is the subtle one of casting.

The right person for the right part is sometimes overlooked. Take, for instance, Dog Day Afternoon. Suppose Peewee Herman had been cast as the main character instead of Pacino. Result: an unmemorable movie at best.

What does the right casting do for a movie? In most cases it makes it. The long pauses where an actor's face carries a scene, as does Pacino in that particular movie, is the subtlety that can turn ok movie making into something unforgettable.

Realistically, there's no `acting' going on. The person is just standing there while the camera and the nuances of sound and story grab the viewer's attention and hold it. In the viewer's mind is constructed what might be going on in the character's mind. That process is stimulated by the visuals, the actor's persona, and the character's prior development along with the other dimensions of story line, art direction, background music, editing, and maybe direction.

Dancer Upstairs suffers from way too many faults in screenplay, character development, direction and continuity of character to be anything other than a work that disappoints. But what it does do, by happenstance or by design, is to cast a good face to the main character. The long pauses and screen stares along with outstanding work in `being' the character by Javier Bardem make the viewing worth the time.

You have to stumble over incongruous character inconsistencies by the other characters, a story line that seems to ramble in search of an ending and the seemingly irrational nature of obviously ill stitched together editing. You can almost hear the conversations in the editing room, `What if we put this here; yeah, that should work.'

It's a series of filmstrips hung together by a thread of screenplay, not a movie. And Javier gives `good face' among the rubble of Malkovich's near disaster.

We should expect to see more of this sort of attempt, John won't go away, he is sure to 'do it again,' and neither will his forgiving fans as he grows in this craft and hopefully finds a script that offers more of a challenge to all the dimensions of movie making.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Accomplished, intelligent & moving

8/10
Author: gcaplan from UK
17 December 2002

A powerful film that tackles big issues with an intimate and often poetic touch.

Through the character of the idealistic but flawed police chief Rejas, Malkovich and Shakespeare have crafted a many-layered meditation on innocence and corruption, love and loneliness, the romance and the banality of violence, and the consolations and frustrations of domesticity.

The unhurried pace offers space for these themes to develop, and serves as a counterpoint to the sudden outbursts of extreme situationist violence,

A towering performance from Javier Bardem, while Malkovich directs with a sure touch, and a distinctive but unobtrusive voice.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Malkovich works his Magic

10/10
Author: David (s_gautama@yahoo.com)
13 March 2002

John Malkovich may not have directed a film before, but I can assure you, he should have been behind the camera for more of his prodigious career. A great flick, thoroughly entertaining while being intensely thought provoking--just the kind of movie I enjoy. Javier gave a great performance, despite the handicap of dialogue that was in his non-native tongue.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A thrilling directorial debut

9/10
Author: zoelat from New Zealand
25 September 2003

For years I have been fascinated by the work of John Malkovich, most recently by "Ripley's Game", in which his acting was nothing short of superb; it astounds me that you movie-lovers in the USA should have, so far, been deprived of a release for that excellent movie...it is now available on dvd (diabolikdvd.com) so I urge his admirers to view that dvd. It was with great hopes that I went yesterday to see his first directorial job, "The Dancer Upstairs" and it is a thrill to report that I found it to be a gripping film with a wonderful performance by the great Javier Bardem. In 1993 I spent one month in South America, including some time in Peru; our tour group was among the first to visit Peru after the great dramas involving the terrorism by, and the downfall of, the "Shining Path" group. The country was still very tense and our group was made to feel very welcome because we had "trusted Peru" to treat us safely. My viewing of this movie was thus poignant for me, as I was anxious to see how Malkovich and Shakespeare had handled the attitudes of the people...of course I realise that the film was shot in Ecuador rather than Peru and that I was observing the director's and author's styles, so I was delighted to be favourably impressed by both. The opening sequence gave a very optimistic pointer to the skills of Malkovich and, by and large, he covered himself with a great deal of credit throughout. There were a few "non sequiturs" in the story (NO SPOILERS),so perhaps Mr Shakespeare left a few loose ends, but I really do hope that John Malkovich is given more directing jobs in years ahead, as I think he shows a great deal of talent. Incidentally, I have always hoped to see another movie directed by Kevin Spacey, after the fine job he did on "Albino Alligator".

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A revolutionary directorial debut by John Malkovich

Author: george.schmidt (gpschmidt67@gmail.com) from fairview, nj
5 May 2003

THE DANCER UPSTAIRS (2003) *** Javiar Bardem, Laura Morante, Juan Diego Botto, Elvira Minguez, Alexandra Lencastre, Oliver Cotton, Luis Miguel Cintra, Javier Manrique, Abel Folk, Marie-Anne Verganza. Absorbing and evenly paced political intrigue drama with Bardem (the heir apparent to Raul Julia in tall, dark and handsome) as a lawyer-turned-police authoritarian in an unnamed Latin American republic facing the case of his life: tracking down a mysterious yet affective revolutionary figure all the while attempting to hold his family together despite the advances of his daughter's sexy dance instructor (Morante). Actor John Malkovich, who makes his directorial debut, balances the oddball humor, pockets of jolting violence and seamy underbelly of the misleading bucolic underbrush of a country that mirrors the all-too-familiarities of recent historical imbroglios (i.e. Chile, Peru, et al.) Based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Shakespeare (who adapted the work himself) and a kissing cousin to the works of Graham Greene it will intrigue those with a patient viewing demeanor at hand.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Superficial treatment of Shining Light rebellion with an unconvincing romantic subplot.

5/10
Author: psccrealock34 from San Diego, CA
7 June 2003

Technically well produced, etc. The Shining Light movement was treated in a blunt and superficial way. The romantic subplot seems unmotivated and unconvincing. It is basically a modern Hollywood type superficial romance. If you like that, you won't mind it, but even taken from that point of view it is not a great movie.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Fancy Foot Work

8/10
Author: lord woodburry (deanofrpps@aol.com) from The Society NY
12 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Meet Detective Agustin Rejas, (Javier Bardem) a Captain in a Latin country's Anti-terrorist police. Unknown revolutionaries have just publicly executed a cabinet minister and his wife. Given the assignment of hunting down the revolutionaries, Rejas meets interference from the nation's army and non-cooperation from the president and the civilian political establishment.

Captain Rejas must recruit a team of incorruptible cops from a department that hasn't been paid in three months to find revolutionaries whose very agenda and grievances are unknown. Yet he has to prevent both a revolution as well as a military coup.

Chance puts him on the track of the small circle of revolutionaries but will his moment of triumph be spoiled?

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