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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English, French, Italian, English - Hearing Impaired, Italian - Hearing Impaired, English - Visually Impaired, French - Hearing Impaired
    The Dancer Upstairs (Rental)
    20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 128 mins . MA15+ . PAL


    This is a sleepy little drama that while lovingly shot and dutifully acted, doesn’t really have the momentum to carry itself throughout its 128 minutes. The action starts out slowly and it takes a fair while to elevate itself into any sort of real motivation. Which is unfortunate, because as a film it looks great and, as noted, the performances are just fine.

    It appears, in this undisclosed South American city, a new coup is rising amongst the people. Atrocities are being carried out in the name of Ezequiel, and so little is known about the man, the police are at a loss to uncover him. Separate cells independent of each other are taking the removal of the rich and powerful into their own hands through some quite inventive methods and Lieutenant Agustin Rejas, the appointed head of the task force, is finding his own life colliding with that of Ezequiel. It seems they met before, many years ago, and by chance he has the only known photograph of Ezequiel. However, he is also becoming more and more attracted to his daughter’s dance instructor, who seems to have an agenda all of her own...

    While this is a well shot and detailed story, I found it a little tangled with many seminal characters that never seem to develop and just complicate matters. There are multiple instances of deeper philosophy contemplated and assessed here as well, but these too never seem to lead anywhere. When it all boils away and we are left with the bones, this is just a slow moving cop pursuit that, while realistic, is a little too drawn out to maintain interest.


    Being shot in 2001, the film naturally looks pretty good. Delivered here in 1.85:1 with 16:9 enhancement, there are but occasional instances of film artefacts yet nothing criminal. Night shots are good without any grain for a change and the shadow detail too is excellent. A lot of the film’s crucial moments occur in darkness and the film isn’t let down here. The video quality here is pretty well perfect really and helps improve the look of the film dramatically.

    Dolby Digital 5.1 brings us a nice surround stage of subtle thunder, explosions and gunfire and the subwoofer gets a hearty workout at these moments as well. The musical score is effective, but mostly understated throughout and this too jumps around the surrounds a little. Alberto Iglesias is responsible for the score and it suits the piece admirably, calling out what limited emotion is wrung from the script. There are some fabulous tracks used here as well, including a magnificent live version of Who Knows Where the Time Goes by Nina Simone (from her Black Gold album) and a weird version of All Along the Watchtower by Iglesias.

    Dialogue is all well spoken, although it lapses in and out of Quechua without warning or subtitles, and I was surprised to find the dialogue translated in the English subtitles but unavailable without them. You know how when films enter into a sentence or two of Czechoslovakian or whatever while the rest is English, and subtitles appear? Not here unless you have the English ones switched on throughout. Dialogue remains firmly within the centre speaker and sounds fine though.

    There are no extras included with this rental version, unfortunately. A director’s commentary from John Malkovich on the occasioon of his directorial debut would certainly have been welcomed here without doubt.

    While I felt the story ran a bit too long for not enough weight, it is still an interesting if ordinary story set among the troubled Southern Americas. Shot in Spain, Portugal and Ecuador, the film is very pretty when encompassing the unique geography and landscapes (particularly in the opening scenes) of the region and looks great. However, these moments are fleeting and certainly not enough to fill out the latent moments of this slow mover. Still, it's worth a look for fans of Malkovich’s work to see him in a different role, behind the camera for a change.

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  •   And I quote...
    "This slow mover isn’t edited quite enough to forward pace what is a fairly average cop pursuit in South America."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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