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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 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:

€100,224 (Spain), 22 September 2002, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$106,142, 4 May 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,377,348, 21 August 2003

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,227,348, 31 December 2004
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

Directorial debut of John Malkovich. 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

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

Soundtracks

Who Knows Where the Time Goes
(1967)
Written by Sandy Denny
Performed by Nina Simone from her album "Black Gold"
Courtesy of BMG, Spain
© Clippers Ediciones Musicales, Barcelona
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User Reviews

Round Up the Unusual Suspects!
22 June 2003 | by noraleeSee 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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