Friday, March 10, 2017

The Dancer and the Thief (2009) - Foreign Film Friday

Number Rolled: 15
Movie Name/Year: The Dancer and the Thief (2009)
Tagline: None
Genre: Drama
Length: 122 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Fernando Trueba Porducciones Cinematograficas
Producer: Jessica Huppert Berman, Cristina Huete, Andres Mardones
Director: Fernando Trueba
Writer: Antonio Skarmeta, Fernando Trueba, Jonas Trueba
Actors: Ricardo Darin, Abel Ayala, Miranda Bodenhofer, Ariadna Gil, Julio Jung, Mario Guerra, Marcia Haydee, Luis Dubo, Luis Gnecco, Mariana Loyola, Gloria Munchmeyer, Gregory Cohen, Catalina Guerra, Catalina Saavedra, Sergio Hernandez, Ernesto Melbran, Samantha Sanchez, Oscar Zimmerman, Antonio Skarmata
Stunt Doubles: None

Speech Available: Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Blurb from Netflix: When he’s released from prison under Chile’s new general amnesty program, safecracker Vergara Grey plans to live a quiet life with his family -- until he gets caught up in the schemes of fellow con, Angel Santiago.

Selina’s Point of View:
Love. Love. LOVE this movie.

I imagine the first thing you probably noticed is that this film’s runtime is about equal to the life span of a household pet. I’m always weary when watching films that are that long.

When you have a short film, it’s alright if it sucks. Especially if you’re watching it at home and didn’t have to cut off your arm to go see it in theaters. When a film is eighty, maybe ninety, minutes it doesn’t seem like that big of a risk. You’re still in double digits and if it sucks, you blew about an hour of your life (because, let’s face it, at least 10 minutes of the ending is probably dedicated to credits). You start going into the zone of two hours or more and you go into watching it by threatening the movie: “I swear to god if I waste my time watching this shit…”

Unless you have a razor sharp attention span. In which case, I’m jealous and I kind of hate you.

The Dancer and the Thief went into the two hour mark, and the credits are very short. I went into it with my normal threat to the inanimate creation, but it didn’t matter. I got hooked very quickly and I stayed hooked.

There was a deeply intricate story line to this film and the majority of the actors portrayed it perfectly.

Miranda Bodenhofer (XXIV Premios Anuales de la Academia, De par en par, Cinema 3) was breathtaking. I believed every single minute of her performance. In fact, I believed it so much that I got legitimately pissed off whenever she got hurt. Like someone was smacking a friend of mine in the face. Abel Ayala (El marginal, Sos mi hombre, Gladiators from Pompey) reminded me a bit of Lillo Brancato (Vamp Bikers Tres, Searching for Bobby D, Renaissance Man) from A Bronx Tale (1993) – which is definitely a compliment.

Finally, there was Ricardo Darin (XXY, The Aura, Lovely Loneliness) who managed to make me truly care about his character.

This is kind of a dance genre movie, but it’s not like any dance movie I’ve ever seen before. It’s got a bit of heist, a bit of thriller, a bit of drama, and a bit of politics. If this is a recipe for an entire group of films, then I’ve never seen anything from that group.

Not only was the writing, directing, and acting very near flawless – but it had that kind of ending that I love. It’s an ending that keeps the film fresh in your mind for weeks after you’ve seen it. If you watch it with friends, you wind up debating about it. If you watch it alone, you wind up theorizing.

Phenomenal film. I highly recommend it. I didn’t even remember I was reading subtitles.

Cat’s Point of View:
This movie came from somewhere out of left field and stole my heart while I wasn’t looking.

It was a perfect storm of good casting and compelling story. I feel compelled to research the symbolism of the Andean Condor – but for why, you’ll need to watch this movie for yourself.

But seriously; I was so engrossed in the movie that I can’t really even think of a remotely negative thing to say about it. It was a little on the long side, but that wasn’t a bad thing. It made for plenty of room to develop the characters and the story arc in a way that was relatable. If I wanted to hurry it along a bit in some places it was only so I could figure out what happened next.

Ricardo Darín (The Secret in Their Eyes, 7th Floor, Black Snow) as the character Vergara Grey gave a very nuanced and understated performance. I loved that he was almost in a role of the ‘straight man’ to the bounding antics of Abel Ayala’s (Scream in the Night, The Mudboy, Permitidos) character of Angel Santiago. He breathed such life and enthusiasm into his character with seemingly endless energy. I’m reminded of old Saturday morning cartoons where an older dog is walking along and a young pup is just bouncing around him gabbing a million miles a minute in hero worship. They pulled off that dynamic without taking it in an annoying direction.

Then we come to Miranda Bodenhofer (De par en par, Cinema 3, Artaud, le Suréel y los Tarahumaras). She was an absolute dream in her role. I believe the story of her casting is something along the lines of discovery by the director as he was location scouting. He remembered seeing her dance when it came time to audition the part. She was so expressive in this challenging, mostly nonverbal role. I could have watched her dance in her own show for at least as long as this movie was.

You might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned the subtitles yet. It is my favorite thing to comment on for our Foreign Film Friday movies, after all. I saved it for last because, honestly, aside from the fact that the text was in a contrasting yellow so it was well seen, I didn’t care. I was so into the movie that I entered that zone where I was experiencing the film more than actively reading so it just didn’t register beyond my initial response at the very beginning.

I would most certainly watch this movie again – especially in hopes of figuring out any clues that might clarify the ending for me – and this is definitely something I would highly recommend.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 59%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

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