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SP 2002 (133′)- Dir.: John Malkovich. With Javier Bardem, Laura Morante, Juan Diego Botto. | My rating: 2 stars | Official site

Rejas (Javier Bardem) is a former lawyer turned policeman in a non-descript South-American country. His assignment is to find the terrorist ‘President Ezekiel’, a philosophy professor, who seems to be everywhere. Rejas is married to a lady who is only interested in make-up and cheap romantic novels, and their daughter has ballet lessons from a charming teacher (Laura Morante). Rejas starts to admire her, and the admiration turns out to be mutual, but their desires are never consumed. It takes Rejas till the end of the film to discover something the audience probably already knew because the title of the film gives away that the ballet teacher is actually a key member of the terrorist organisation.
The film is based on the novel by Nicolas Shakespeare.

Ever since I saw Dangerous Liaisons in 1988, I am an avid follower of John Malkovich. I wouldn’t say am a fan, but Malkovich is definitely a rare bird in international cinema. He ridiculed and immortalised himself at the same time with his title role in the extraordinary film Being John Malkovich and prefers intellectual Europe (where he lives) to the vulgar USA. He recently directed his first play, Hysteria, that is now showing in a Paris theatre. The Dancer Upstairs is his directorial film debute. The pace is sometimes very slow; a disease Malkovich probably caught while hanging around too much with the teddy bear of Continental pretentious cinema, 92-year old Manoel de Oliveira. The actors in The Dancer Upstairs have a strange Europudding accent, which is sometimes very distracting. Malkovich’s debute could have been a promising film, should he have showed a little more guts in the editing room. More than two hours is definitely too much for this story.

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