The Dancer Upstairs


The Dancer Upstairs

Critics Consensus

The Dancer Upstairs benefits from a talented cast and alluring intelligence, although pacing problems prevent this John Malkovich-directed mystery from reaching its full potential.



Total Count: 114


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,843
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Movie Info

As a Latin American nation nears collapse under a highly organized terrorist movement, idealistic policeman Agustin Rejas faces the greatest challenge of his career: to catch the mysterious guerilla leader Ezequiel. The brains behind the bloody revolution that threatens to bring the government and entire country down, Ezequiel is as elusive as Rejas' superiors are corrupt--an irony not lost on Rejas, who left a career as a lawyer to try to find "a more honorable way of practicing the law." The military's response to the brutal tactics of Ezequiel's followers is equally ferocious, creating an atmosphere of mass panic. In the midst of the chaos, Rejas finds respite in Yolanda, his daughter's soulfully beautiful ballet teacher. But she, who appears to be a shelter from the storm, may in actuality be the storm's eye. As Rejas draws nearer to the man who considers himself to be the "Fourth Flame of Communism," he and the dancer he loves will be forced to choose between love, country and self.


Javier Bardem
as Det. Lt. Agustin Rejas
Juan Diego Botto
as Det. Sgt. Sucre
Abel Folk
as Ezequiel/Duran
Ramiro Jimenez
as Sgt. Pisac
Lam Chuen
as Major Kwan
Isabel Prinz
as Quesada's Wife
Benjamas Boonnak
as Chinese Ambassadress
Ignacio Carreno
as Quesada's Bodyguard
Tito Garcia
as Admiral Prado
Steve Emerson
as TV Producer
Eusebio Lazaro
as Father Ramon
Montserrat Astudillo
as Woman in Pick-up/Edith Pusanga
Galo Urbina
as Indian No. 1 in Pick-up
Jairon Flores
as Indian No. 2 in Pick-up
Carlos Carrillo
as TV Technician
Paulina Aguilar
as Shanty Girl
Esteban Salazar
as Shanty Policeman
German Nunez
as Manager
Diego Naranjo
as Captain Montesinos
Ignacio Duran
as Theatre Manager
Frida Torresblanco
as Woman in Theatre
Lola Peno
as Nurse
David Aguilar
as Boy with a Poster
Raquel Rocha
as Woman in Convertible
Alexis Rodrigues
as Man in Convertible
Daniel Aguilar
as Coca Cola Cap
Yousaf Bokhari
as Radio Announcer
Montserrat Iglesias
as Radio Announcer/Student
Natalia Tarnawiecki
as Radio Announcer
Carlos Thiebaut
as Radio Announcer
John Malkovich
as Abimael Guzman
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News & Interviews for The Dancer Upstairs

Critic Reviews for The Dancer Upstairs

All Critics (114) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (73) | Rotten (41)

  • With a clever Graham-Greene-esque script, choice acting by the whole ensemble (especially Bardem), fine music by Alberto Iglesias, and the strong directorial control of Malkovich, the film zips along.

    Jul 18, 2018 | Full Review…
  • 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 | Rating: 2/5
  • 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 | Rating: 3/4
  • 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 | Rating: B+

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Moving, melancholy, and, yes, political.

    May 16, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • Reflects its director, being intelligent and elegantly turned-out but distant.

    May 16, 2003 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Dancer Upstairs

  • Jun 18, 2017
    okay but pacing was a bit slow
    Ed K Super Reviewer
  • Oct 17, 2007
    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.
    Stephen M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 26, 2007
    A very solid directorial effort from Malkovich, with flaws and everything. Bardem is spot on in the main role.
    Tsubaki S Super Reviewer
  • Aug 07, 2007
    A lot of disturbing animal cruelty scenes in this movie. Other than the violence, I thought it was boring and couldn't get into it. I turned it off half way through.
    Ida K Super Reviewer

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