The Dancer Upstairs

Rated NR

Not having read the book by Nicholas Shakespeare on which this film is based, I can only hope that the book is more comprehensible than this confusing mish-mash about a revolutionary indigenous group with a mysterious goal and a bearded leader with psoriasis. For all I know, the head terrorist could have been using his helpless minions to string up dead dogs on lampposts and set off car bombs at random as a round-about way of demanding a cure for his skin disease. Then again, maybe the big screen adaptation really is understandable, but the cast’s thick Latino accents delivering the indistinguishable English dialogue made the story difficult to follow. What is clear is the commanding performance by Javier Bardem, who plays a lawyer-turned-cop in pursuit of the violent activists while also on the verge of committing adultery with the dancer upstairs. John Malkovich makes a decent turn with his debut film behind the camera, but should consider using subtitles for his next directorial attempt.

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