THE DANCER UPSTAIRS Add To My Top 10

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Release Date: May 02, 2003

Starring: Javier Bardem, Laura Morante, Juan Diego Botto, Elvira Minguez, and Abel Folk

Genre: Political Thriller

Audience: Adults REVIEWER: Dr. Tom
Snyder A brilliantly directed
political thriller, THE DANCER
UPSTAIRS nevertheless suffers
from script problems that
limit its appeal and result in
moral confusion. Javier Bardem
stars as Agustin Rejas, a
lawyer turned policeman who's
assigned by his capricious
boss to investigate a
mysterious terrorist calling
himself Ezequiel, in a
confused homage to the
biblical prophet. The
terrorist has committed a
series of political murders in
the countryside and is now
threatening the capital city,
which is full of corrupt
government officials and
degenerate international
diplomats. A favorite modus
operandi of Ezequiel is to
string up dogs wired with
explosives and attached to
signs filled with fascist and
Communist slogans, and obtuse
philosophical references. As
Rejas follows the terrorist's
trail, he becomes attracted to
his daughter's ballet teacher,
Yolanda, even though he's
married. Yolanda rebuffs his
advances, telling Rejas that
their circumstances and
lifestyles prevent them from
ever being together. Rejas
eventually accepts her
judgment. He represses his
lust for her, but not his
affection. Rejas closes in on
the terrorist and his comings
and goings. The trail leads to
Yolanda's rented room above
her own living quarters.
Perhaps, there is more to
Yolanda than meets the
eye. THE DANCER UPSTAIRS is
based on a novel by Nicholas
Shakespeare that is, in turn,
based on the true capture of
the founder of Shining Path,
Peru's infamous Communist
terrorist group. Though based
on fact, the ending of the
movie, especially when
Yolanda's character
drastically changes direction,
is not convincing.
Furthermore, although Rejas's
young partner makes an
appropriate judgment on the
immoral character of the
terrorist leader, the movie
almost absolves Yolanda for
her role in the terrorist's
murderous Communist rampage.
Thus, THE DANCER UPSTAIRS
settles for psychological
ambiguity rather than moral
clarity. The movie's final
scene, however, shows Rejas
sharing a joyful moment with
his young daughter, and
briefly his wife, which nearly
redeems the immoral aspects of
the ending. Despite the
problems above, actor John
Malkovich, in his first
directorial effort, does a
brilliant job of following the
characters with his camera and
conveying the right atmosphere
in most scenes. He has clearly
benefited from his years of
superb acting and from his
years of stage directing. His
directing fails him only when
he decides to opt for
psychological ambiguity as
opposed to moral clarity, a
professional failing to which
many talented Hollywood actors
and artists succumb. In
addition to the moral
ambiguity in the movie, THE
DANCER UPSTAIRS also contains
plenty of strong foul
language, an adulterous kiss
between the married cop and
the ballet dancer, very strong
violence (including
disturbing, but not gory,
shots of dead animal bodies
and a burnt corpse), and a
nude shot of Yolanda alone in
her shower. All of these
things make this movie
acceptable only for adults,
with extreme caution. Please
address your comments
to: Lindsay Law, President Fox
Searchlight 20th Century Fox
Film Corp. A Division of Fox,
Inc. 10201 West Pico Blvd.,
Bldg. 38 Los Angeles, CA
90035 Phone: (310) 369-4402

Rating: R

Runtime: 128 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(B, Co, Ab, LLL, VVV, S, NN, A, D, M) Moral worldview with South American policeman facing struggles between government corruption and leftist political terrorism with Communist revolutionary slogans, and the lack of moral clarity mars story's ending is but slightly redeemed by final scene showing father's connection to his young daughter; 23 mostly strong obscenities, five strong profanities and two light profanities; very strong violence includes dead dogs wired with explosives, live animals tied to lit dynamite, explosions, gunplay, young girl bleeds to death with her face and chest all bloody, image of young boy's burnt corpse, terrorism, priest murdered; smoldering adulterous lust not consummated and married man passionately kisses unmarried woman and holds her when she becomes hysterical; upper female nudity and rear nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, government corruption and policeman takes bribe.

GENRE: Political Thriller

B

Co

Ab

LLL

VVV

S

NN

A

D

M

Summary:

THE DANCER UPSTAIRS, directed by talented actor John Malkovich, is a fictionalized account of the capture of the founder of Peru's Communist terrorist group, Shining Path. A brilliantly directed political thriller, THE DANCER UPSTAIRS suffers from some script problems that limit its appeal and result in moral confusion, as well as very strong violence, plenty of foul language, and brief nudity.

Review:

A brilliantly directed political thriller, THE DANCER UPSTAIRS nevertheless suffers from script problems that limit its appeal and result in moral confusion.

Javier Bardem stars as Agustin Rejas, a lawyer turned policeman who's assigned by his capricious boss to investigate a mysterious terrorist calling himself Ezequiel, in a confused homage to the biblical prophet. The terrorist has committed a series of political murders in the countryside and is now threatening the capital city, which is full of corrupt government officials and degenerate international diplomats. A favorite modus operandi of Ezequiel is to string up dogs wired with explosives and attached to signs filled with fascist and Communist slogans, and obtuse philosophical references.

As Rejas follows the terrorist's trail, he becomes attracted to his daughter's ballet teacher, Yolanda, even though he's married. Yolanda rebuffs his advances, telling Rejas that their circumstances and lifestyles prevent them from ever being together. Rejas eventually accepts her judgment. He represses his lust for her, but not his affection.

Rejas closes in on the terrorist and his comings and goings. The trail leads to Yolanda's rented room above her own living quarters. Perhaps, there is more to Yolanda than meets the eye.

THE DANCER UPSTAIRS is based on a novel by Nicholas Shakespeare that is, in turn, based on the true capture of the founder of Shining Path, Peru's infamous Communist terrorist group. Though based on fact, the ending of the movie, especially when Yolanda's character drastically changes direction, is not convincing. Furthermore, although Rejas's young partner makes an appropriate judgment on the immoral character of the terrorist leader, the movie almost absolves Yolanda for her role in the terrorist's murderous Communist rampage. Thus, THE DANCER UPSTAIRS settles for psychological ambiguity rather than moral clarity. The movie's final scene, however, shows Rejas sharing a joyful moment with his young daughter, and briefly his wife, which nearly redeems the immoral aspects of the ending.

Despite the problems above, actor John Malkovich, in his first directorial effort, does a brilliant job of following the characters with his camera and conveying the right atmosphere in most scenes. He has clearly benefited from his years of superb acting and from his years of stage directing. His directing fails him only when he decides to opt for psychological ambiguity as opposed to moral clarity, a professional failing to which many talented Hollywood actors and artists succumb.

In addition to the moral ambiguity in the movie, THE DANCER UPSTAIRS also contains plenty of strong foul language, an adulterous kiss between the married cop and the ballet dancer, very strong violence (including disturbing, but not gory, shots of dead animal bodies and a burnt corpse), and a nude shot of Yolanda alone in her shower. All of these things make this movie acceptable only for adults, with extreme caution.

Please address your comments to:

Lindsay Law, President

Fox Searchlight

20th Century Fox Film Corp.

A Division of Fox, Inc.

10201 West Pico Blvd., Bldg. 38

Los Angeles, CA 90035

Phone: (310) 369-4402

In Brief: