The Dancer Upstairs

The poster makes it look like a sex film — you have to sell tickets — but this slow-building thriller, in which John Malkovich makes an elegantly stylized debut as a director, is concerned with a man's conscience. The man, played with implosive force by Javier Bardem, is a lawyer turned cop who tracks an anarchist through Latin America and finds solace, he thinks, in the arms of his daughter's ballet teacher (Laura Morante). From this tangled web, Malkovich weaves something delicate and devastating.

From The Archives Issue 923: May 29, 2003