An honest man caught in a world of intrigue, power and passion.


One dark night in an unnamed South American country, a car containing three men and a woman drives through a police checkpoint; the cop manning the checkpoint is Rejas, Javier Bardem, and only later does he realise that one of the men he let through was Ezekiel, the leader of a terrorist movement which has been carrying out assassinations. Some time later, Rejas has been posted to the capital city where, with the declaration of martial law, he heads an anti-terrorist unit determined to track down Ezekiel. This first feature directed by John Malkovich is a powerful drama about an honest cop who finds himself in a frightening situation in which ever more daring terrorists carry out political assassinations and bombings with apparent impunity while at the same time the investigators have to deal with the corruption inherent in the system. Based on the novel by Nicholas Shakespeare, it's inspired by the story of the capture of the leader of Peru's Shining Path terrorist organisation some time ago. Javier Bardem gives a forceful performance in the leading role, while Laura Morante is also effective as the head of a ballet school his daughter attends. Malkovich demonstrates considerable skills as a director, especially in the building of suspense; he uses locations well and elicits good performances from his talented cast. At two and a quarter hours, the running time is a bit indulgent, but The Dancer Upstairs is a quality film in the tradition of those exciting Costa-Gavras thrillers like Z and State Of Siege.