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The Dancer Upstairs (2002)



Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 113
Fresh: 72 | Rotten: 41

Javier Bardem is compelling in the lead role as a police detective in search of a violent, mysterious politcal radical, and as a director, John Malkovich proves adept at crafting a suspenseful mood.


Average Rating: 6.6/10
Critic Reviews: 37
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 9

Javier Bardem is compelling in the lead role as a police detective in search of a violent, mysterious politcal radical, and as a director, John Malkovich proves adept at crafting a suspenseful mood.



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 4,750

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Movie Info

Actor John Malkovich made his directorial debut with this tense political thriller, set in an unnamed Latin American nation and based on a novel by Nicholas Shakespeare. Agustin Rejas (Javier Bardem) is a former lawyer who became a police detective as a more direct way of dealing with crime and justice. Rejas has been assigned to investigate a group of terrorists who are determined to up-end the current government through any means necessary, from revolting pranks (such as leaving dead animals,

Sep 23, 2003


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All Critics (130) | Top Critics (41) | Fresh (72) | Rotten (41) | DVD (18)

The Dancer Upstairs is, like its director, sleek, mysterious and intelligent. But until its last-half hour or so, it is also, unfortunately, mind-numbing.

May 23, 2003
Orlando Sentinel
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It thrives on the hush before the explosion instead of its aftermath, and it's that eerie sense of expectation that gives the film its thick aura of suspense.

May 16, 2003 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
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It is not revolutionary, but it brims with promise and a love of film, and is a fine if worried dance indeed.

May 16, 2003
Detroit News
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Moving, melancholy, and, yes, political.

May 16, 2003 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
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Reflects its director, being intelligent and elegantly turned-out but distant.

May 16, 2003 Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press
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Bardem's performance lingers in ways that give the movie resonance.

May 16, 2003
Denver Rocky Mountain News
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Though flawed and listless as a political drama or thriller, Malkovich's feature debut deserves credit for itis ambition and for tackling an overtly political theme (guerrilla wars in Peru), a rare sight in today's indie milieu.

June 9, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Em sua estréia na direção, Malkovich conduz a história com segurança e sem exibicionismo, enquanto Bardem oferece mais uma grande atuação.

April 25, 2004
Cinema em Cena

'Shakespeare retooled his novel for the screen adaptation ... It is Malkovich who reinjects the mystery, along with a little magic.'

March 3, 2004 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

Malkovich's take on a world of corruption, intrigue and terrorism is elegantly mysterious, but...leaps in plot and missteps in character trip up The Dancer Upstairs.

December 1, 2003
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)


October 8, 2003 Full Review Source:

A bit like an adolescent - desperate to be taken seriously, yet still self-consciously goofy and immature.

September 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Malkovich and Shakespeare seem content to linger over minor things, possibly to let the audience absorb them better but to the detriment of the movie's tempo.

September 7, 2003 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Filled with tension and a genuine air of uncertainty, Malkovich has delivered a truly riveting film.

June 25, 2003 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

This is John Malkovich's directing debut, and it has elements we associate with his personality: puckishness, dark humor, questioning of authority, villains on all levels who can be charismatic.

June 20, 2003 Full Review Source: Charlotte Observer
Charlotte Observer

All the dots are there but Malkovich and Shakespeare (who adapted his book for the screen) are very stingy about providing the connecting lines.

June 13, 2003 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

One of the most chilling political thrillers in years.

June 11, 2003 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

As complicated and turtle-slow as any picture you're likely to see, and there's no emotional or intellectual payoff to reward the viewers who struggle to keep up.

May 30, 2003

I'm not sure that I have ever seen a more compelling picture of sudden violence as is depicted here - Malkovich's approach is apt, since the film takes place in a world where terrorist acts are the order of the day.

May 29, 2003 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Suddenly, the film's contrivances make sense and its shortcomings are nearly made up for in a final, haunting sequence.

May 28, 2003 Full Review Source: Zertinet Movies
Zertinet Movies

The screenplay [of "The Dancer Upstairs"] works more than it doesn't but there isn't the chemistry between the stars I would like to see.

May 27, 2003 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

The story meanders weakly around the main plot and is only reined in by Bardem's strong and cunning performance.

May 26, 2003 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Just the type of carefully wrought, somewhat chilly, rather pretentious and extremely intelligent effort one would expect from Malkovich.

May 26, 2003
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

A haunting and deliberate, complex and occasionally convoluted dance between fanaticism and stoicism.

May 23, 2003
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Malkovich was the wrong choice of director. Nothing here has the punch it deserves.

May 23, 2003 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Audience Reviews for The Dancer Upstairs

A hugely promising directorial debut by John Malkovich, this is a stunning political thriller. Javier Bardem is perfect as an ambitious police captain, saddled with a materialistic wife, who finds himself falling for his daughter's dancing teacher while hunting for a revolutionary leader in an unnamed Latin American state. Intelligent, disturbing, suspenseful, romantic and, finally, moving, the film is perfectly paced and very well photographed. Strongly recommended.
October 17, 2007

Super Reviewer

A very solid directorial effort from Malkovich, with flaws and everything. Bardem is spot on in the main role.
September 26, 2007
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

An intelligent, riveting, tense and nerve wrecking thriller. skillful and remarkable. Malkovich gives and outstanding directional debut. Javier Bardem delivers an astonishing performance. It's as thrilling as it is inriuging.
September 19, 2006

Super Reviewer

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