The Dancer Upstairs


John Malkovich makes a thoughtful directorial debut with this intelligent political thriller, set in an unnamed Latin American country and based on the real-life manhunt for a Peruvian guerrilla leader. Javier Bardem (Before Night Falls) is the conflicted cop in charge of the search, struggling to control his lust for his daughter's dance teacher (Laura Morante from The Son's Room) as the country slides into anarchy.

Having the multinational cast speak in English leads to some rather stilted performances, while the dead mongrels hanging from lampposts definitely won't please animal lovers. But the result still compares favourably with the work of Costa-Gavras, to whom Malko pays sincere if self-conscious homage by shoehorning his 1973 film State Of Siege into the story.

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