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MRQE Top Critic

Jaffa

Jaffa views the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through the lens of young love. —Matt Anderson (DVD review...)

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John Malkovich’s directorial debut is an interesting experiment that shows a real mastery of visual storytelling that is anchored by the charismatic presence of Javier Bardem. This political drama tells the story of an honest policeman (based on a real character) who tries to bring a terrorist guerilla leader to justice. Based on the book by Nicholas Shakespeare, Malkovich goes out of his way to avoid any real-world settings and, instead, creates a realm that is meant to be an amalgam of Latin America - with a guerilla movement that is loosely modeled on the terrorist organization from Peru, the Shining Path. Influenced by the political dramas of Costa Gavras, The Dancer Upstairs is uncompromising in many ways that should be applauded, but Malkovich’s gambit of having the actors speak English with strong Spanish accents results in many unintelligible moments and is ultimately distracting rather than effective. Fox Searchlight picked up this title, so people can judge the work for themselves in the near future. (See interview.)