(with a four star performance by Javier Bardem)
Starring: Javier Bardem, Laura Morante, Juan Diego Botto
and Elvira Minguez
Directed by: John Malkovich
Based on the novel by: Nicholas Shakespeare
Dancer Upstairs is thespian extraordinaire John Malkovich's
first directorial soirée, and it's a winner. Of course
the man was extremely clever and cast a highly intelligent actor
in the lead position for a highly intelligent script; one Javier
somewhere in the bowels of Latin America a revolution
is boiling beneath the surface. They attack and leave cryptic
messages as to their mission of rule. The violence is escalating
and one detective is scurrying to discover the gorilla rebels'
leader and sever his chokehold before it is too late.
officer, Augustin Rejas (Javier Bardem), is a solemn fellow.
He too is boiling within. His home life is a bit off and as
an honest man, an ex-attorney, he became tired of freeing scum.
He decided to turn to the field of policing to appease his soul.
his new journey is a street filled with potholes. He must face
crooked politicians, evil rebels that actually use children
and animals to punctuate their points in the most gruesome of
ways imaginable, and continual suspicions from his superiors.
the officer plods along on a tiny budget and under constant
surveillance, he finds a small pocket of sanity at his daughter's
ballet teacher's (Laura Morante) side. His wife, a material
self-centered gal, hardly notices the man - so it's only natural
he should seek a cuddle woo-woo elsewhere.
his country falls under full scale gorilla siege and each second
is becoming more intense, the officer may be letting his heart
hide a truth he should have seen, maybe would have seen, a long
Bardem is one of the handsomest men I have ever seen; complete
with that late-night stare and manly man accent a girl would
cause rumors over. He can also act. In fact he could tell a
whole story with nothing more than a twitch of an eyebrow! In
The Dancer Upstairs he holds great silences at his command.
He is truly mesmerizing. His "American" breakthrough
role in Before Night Falls didn't really change much
for him here - but hopefully now that he's learned English (giving
directors no excuses) we will see his glorious multiple
talents a bit more.
tale moves slowly and often the violence will churn your stomach.
But, the director needed to get into this Rejas' soul and we
needed to believe his position. The cinematography and the well
choreographed scenes accent the subtle awakenings and actions
beautifully. Hard work went into getting the feel of the revolution
and the team has delivered a chilling account to be sure.
Dancer Upstairs is highly recommend this for any film viewers
willing to give a script time to unfold - of course as
directed by a seasoned consummate actors guiding one of our
greatest living actors, the wait for the plot is delectable!
recommendation: Flan and Espresso