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The Dancer Upstairs



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10

MPAA Rating: R

John Malkovich's directorial debut is about an investigator in an unnamed Latin American country who is trying to locate the mysterious Ezequiel, the leader of a revolutionary group that uses terrorist tactics to ferment rebellion among the indigenous people. Disenchanted with the politics of his country, the investigator wonders about his decision to become a policeman. With Javier Bardem, Laura Morante, Juan Diego Botto, Luis Miguel Cintra and Alexandra Lancastre. [2:04]

SEX/NUDITY 7 - A nude man bathes in a stream; we see him from a distance and his private parts are visible. A nude woman showers and we see her bare thigh, bare buttock and bare breast. A man and a woman kiss, a man and woman kiss and hug, a man and a woman kiss on the cheeks. A man admires a woman wearing tight-fitting athletic clothes (we see her cleavage). A dance troupe wears costumes that reveal bare buttocks and chests (the men). A woman undresses in front of a man and we see her in her bra and panties. A woman is referred to as a man's mistress. A woman adjusts her breasts. A young woman bends over and her short skirt reveals her upper thighs and part of her buttocks; a man in a car admires her and asks how old she is. A woman wears a tight-fitting outfit that reveals her cleavage and bare abdomen.

VIOLENCE/GORE 9 - Several people are shot during a stage performance; in a very graphic and bloody scene, we see a person with a bullet hole through the eye, and one with a bullet hole in the forehead. A wounded young woman is discovered lying in a bed, and we see blood pouring from her mouth and most of her face is missing, and there is blood all over her and the bed; she wipes some blood from her mouth, throws it on a man, and she is shot repeatedly by someone outside the room. Several young women shoot at men in a car; all the men are killed (blood sprays in the car and bodies litter the street), and one young woman is wounded. A burning and charred body hangs by its feet and people gathered around it dance and hit it with a stick. A boy hands a bag to a man in a shop and we see the shop explode; we see a couple of bodies lying in the street and we see the bloody remains (indiscernible) of the boy in a body bag. A car drives into a crowded restaurant and explodes; we see people jumping and being tossed by the blast. A dog with a burning stick of dynamite tied to his tail runs through a crowded market and the dynamite explodes knocking people to the ground. A dog hangs from a light post with a stick of dynamite sticking out of his throat, and a dead dog hangs in a woman's clothes closet -- we see many other dogs hanging from lampposts throughout the movie. We see a man being tortured (a woman shoves pages from a book in his mouth) and then we hear gunshots. From a distance, we see a man being shot and he falls into water. A car runs over someone on a dark road and keeps on going (we later see blood on the bumper). We see two cars explode (presumably with people inside). Armed personnel go into a building and hold a man at gunpoint. We see the first strike of a man being beaten by another man holding a long stick. We hear about a body being found with its limbs cut off, we hear that two homosexuals were beheaded, we hear that a public official was shot, and we hear about a person having been skinned alive. A man shoves a man away from him and bangs his head on a desk. A woman yells at a man, hits him and spits on him. A woman screams in fear when her lights go out. There is a discussion of statutory rape. A man talks about having forced people to eat dog feces. A man has a bloody hand wrapped in a bandage and another man has a charred and bloody face. A man is grabbed and put into a car by other men. A group of people are dragged off by police. We read newspaper headlines that write about assassinations and kidnappings. A man has a skin ailment that leaves him with lesions on his face.

PROFANITY 6 - 18 F-words, 3 sexual references, 7 scatological terms, 2 anatomical terms, 6 religious exclamations. [profanity glossary]

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Latin America, terrorism, corruption, revolution, authoritarian regimes, fascism, martial law, communism, Socrates, Jesus, homosexuality, infidelity, hate, fear of the dark, time, religion.

MESSAGE - Revolutions are usually bloody and very brutal.

(Note: People are shown smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.)

Special Keywords: S7 - V9 - P6 - MPAAR

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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