This taut political thriller set in Latin America marks John Malkovich's explosive directorial debut. Academy Award nominee Javier Bardem (Best Actor, 2000 - Before Night Falls) stars as legit policeman Agustin Rejas, who faces the greatest challenge of his career - to catch the leader of a terrorist movement threatening to collapse his government, while being stopped at every turn by his own corrupt superiors. As the fight becomes more ferocious, Rejas' search brings him ever closer to the guerrilla leader. But when, amidst the chaos, he falls in love with his daughter's ballet teacher (Laura Morante), Rejas must choose between his heart, his country, and his own well-being.
Marking an assured directorial debut for actor John Malkovich, The Dancer Upstairs
is a tense, nerve-jangling political thriller that values adult storytelling and emotional depth over cheap thrills. It's a challenge for those accustomed to the frantic pace of Hollywood thrillers, but attentive viewers will be richly rewarded by Malkovich's slow-burn approach to the film's terrorist plot, adapted by Nicholas Shakespeare from his own novel
, based on the "Shining Path" movement that terrorized Peru in the 1980s. The plot unfolds in an unnamed Latin American capital, where a lawyer-turned-police detective named Rejas (Javier Bardem) leads an investigation to locate Ezequiel, a terrorist whose followers have left a trail of fear, death and destruction across the city. Rejas falls in love with his daughter's ballet teacher (Laura Morante), but the film's ultimate revelation--a coincidence that Malkovich handles with credible delicacy--throws this simmering drama into stark relief, bringing Bardem's character (and his subtle performance) to a greater awareness of his own personal and political humanity. --Jeff Shannon