6.9/10
6,192
76 user 91 critic

The Dancer Upstairs (2002)

Trailer
0:34 | Trailer
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 ... 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 Xiaoping Deng (who Shining Path leader Abimael 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 »

Goofs

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

Features State of Siege (1972) See more »

Soundtracks

Viagens Interditas
(1995)
Written by Pedro Malgheas (as Pedro Ayres) and Rodrigo Leão
Performed by Madredeus
Licensed by Dpte. de Productos Especiales de
(p) EMI Odean, S.A., Madrid, Spain, 2001 exclusive rights holder
See more »

User Reviews

Plod got there in the end - no fancy steps required
5 July 2003 | by Philby-3See 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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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 USA:

$106,142, 4 May 2003

Gross USA:

$2,377,348

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,227,348
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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