Archive of films The Dancer Upstairs / The Dancer Upstairs

Spain / USA
2002, 132 min

Section: Tribute to John Malkovich
Year: 2009

Police detective Agustín Rejas is assigned to investigate the case of a brutal terrorist attack perpetrated, by all accounts, by a Maoist guerrilla group. In the subplot, the detective meets a beautiful ballet dancer named Yolanda, who is giving his talented daughter dancing lessons.... Based on the novel by Nicholas Shakespeare and starring Javier Bardem, this romantic thriller was John Malkovich’s debut as a director.


Police detective Agustín Rejas is entrusted with investigating the case of brutal terrorist attacks allegedly committed by members of a Maoist guerrilla group. Its leader, wanted anarchist Ezequiel, fascinates his fellow fighters with his energy, ideals, and personal charisma. Detective Agustín can’t help but sympathize with his nemesis: the ideas and methods of the representatives of his country’s ostensibly democratic (yet in reality corrupt and fascist) government are not at all to his liking. The detective’s private life is in sharp contrast to the life-and-death games which play out in his profession. In vain does Agustín try to take his wife Sylvina’s problems seriously, and when he meets ballet teacher Yolanda, who is instructing his talented daughter in dance, a new dimension is added to his life. The attractive and somewhat mysterious young woman is, however, not the only one who can catch him off-guard.... John Malkovich based his elegant directorial debut on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Shakespeare. The British author and journalist wrote the book in 1997 on the basis of actual events which took place in Peru in connection with Shining Path guerrilla leader Abimael Guzmán. The film, combining elements of romance and thriller, takes place in an unnamed Latin American country and highlights the topic of terrorism as seen through the lens of a pre-9/11 world. At the 2002 Venice IFF, Alberto Iglesias took Best Soundtrack.


20th Century Fox International - Fox Searchlight
10201 West Pico Boulevard, 90035, Los Angeles
United States of America
Tel: +1 310 369 001 4
Fax: +1 310 969 092 5

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Tribute to John Malkovich
Director: John Malkovich
Screenplay: Nicholas Shakespeare podle vlastního románu / based on his novel
Dir. of Photography: José Luis Alcaine
Music: Alberto Iglesias
Editor: Mario Battistel
Producer: Andrés Vicente Goméz, John Malkovich, Lianne Halfon, Russell Smith
Production: Mr. Mudd
Cast: Javier Bardem, Laura Morante, Juan Diego Botto, Elvira Mínguez
Contact: 20th Century Fox International - Fox Searchlight


John Malkovich

Actor / Film Director

Laura Morante



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