Javier Bardem has got to be one of the greatest actors of the past decade. While he hasn’t done a lot, “Before Night Falls” provided an unforgettable performance that rose above an inconsistent script. Another great actor, John Malkovich, recognizing Bardem’s potential, cast him in the lead to his own directorial debut, THE DANCER UPSTAIRS”. Bardem plays a cop, struggling against all odds to find hope in is country(unnamed)as he tracks down a terrorist thug known as “Presidente Ezequiel”. The intelligent script, adapted from the novel by its author, Nicholas Shakespeare, catches the tightrope a Democracy must walk in trying to stamp out terrorism and still remain a free society. Bardem’s character becomes increasingly aware that the society he cares so much about is knowingly being dismantled more and more each day. As the military resorts to every means in its attempt to quash the rebels, it demonstrates fascism isn’t far away.
“THE DANCER UPSTAIRS” moves as a steady, albeit, deliberate pace. Malkovich is more concerned with telling a story than generating nail-biting suspense, so while there are some tense moments, the thrills are more cerebral and provocative than in most thrillers.
While the film also has romantic overtones, as the cop becomes smitten with his daughter’s ballet teacher, it never feels forced, and remains moving.
FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT has preserved the film’s 1.85:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 enhancement. The image is fantastic! Colors are dead on throughout, and the contrast is nearly flawless! There’s great detail here!
FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT has presented a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for this release.
While the surrounds aren’t aggressive, the overall fidelity and separation is good. Dialogue, even when low is always intelligible and free from distortion.
Malkovich fans should find the commentary worthwhile, but for others, it requires a lot of patience. There are numerous silent passages within the commentary, even with Bardem on board, and there’s even a 5 minute gap before either speaks when the film begins.
“JOURNEYS WITH JOHN MALKOVICH” is a short, wherein we follow the director upon the premiere of the film in London.
“REVEALING THE DANCER UPSTAIRS” is filled with behind-the-scenes moments, and provides insight as well as entertainment.