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Before Night Falls (2000)

Cast: Javier Bardem, Olivier Martinez, Andrea Di Stefano, more...
Director: Julian Schnabel
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: New Line Home Video
Genre: Drama, Independent, Politics and Social Issues, Biopics, Gay & Lesbian, Features
Running Time: 133 min.
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

For his sophomore feature film effort, visual artist Julian Schnabel chronicles the life of one of Cuba's most charismatic literary voices, the late Reinaldo Arenas. Working with Arenas' friends and family, Schnabel recounts the author's impoverished rural upbringing and the intense love and support he receives from his mother (played by the director's wife, Olatz Lopez Garmendia). As a young man, Arenas (Javier Bardem) is singled out by his teachers and encouraged to further his skills as a writer -- no easy task, considering the Castro regime's censorship of any work considered to be subversive or anti-authoritarian. Still, the author manages to smuggle his work out of the country through friends, who arrange for one of his novels to be published in France. Not only persecuted for his creative beliefs, the openly gay Arenas is jailed on a bogus sex charge; he escapes internment only to be captured and persecuted later for his contraband dispatches. In 1980, Arenas is finally allowed to leave Cuba for the United States, where he achieves freedom of expression but not prosperity. Schnabel's first film was another portrait of an artist, 1996's Basquiat; Bardem made his name in several of director Pedro Almodovar's Spanish-language productions. Before Night Falls premiered at the 2000 Venice Film Festival, where it received the Best Actor and Grand Special Jury prizes, and made its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Bardem would go on to receive a host of accolades, including an eventual Best Actor nomination at the 2001 Academy Awards. ~ Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide

You might also enjoy:
Bitter Sugar
Another complex film worth a look for anyone interested in modern-day Cuba

Live Flesh
Bardem co-starred in Spanish master filmmaker Pedro Almodovar's vibrant suspense film

GreenCine Member Reviews

verdad a cuba by SMattoon November 11, 2005 - 7:52 AM PST
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
beautifully portrayed and true to cuba's spirit and aesthetic. parts of the plot required more attention than I gave (home viewing can be so distracting). the story is not uplifting, but the powerful performances and subtly artisitc cinematography were enough to make me happy I watched this landmark piece.

Realistic portrayal of Cuban prisons. by sangretoro November 8, 2003 - 7:40 AM PST
5 out of 6 members found this review helpful
Have been told by survivor that film is realistic portrayal of detentions and political climate in Cuba.

Counter Revolutionary Writer in Cuba by TAubuchon March 4, 2002 - 11:27 AM PST
14 out of 14 members found this review helpful
Before Night Falls was a serious look into the homosexual sub-culture of Cuba after Castro took power. Though pegged as a documentary, it did take dramatic license, which added to the film as a whole. After watching this movie I felt that I had a better grasp of Reinaldo Arenas life and struggle as a gay counter revolutionary in Cuba and Cuba itself. Johnny Depp and Sean Penn have extremely brief, but interesting roles in the movie. Before Night Falls has great extra's as well. You should check out the interview with Reinaldo in New York a few years before his death and the mini documentary about director Julian Schnabel artwork. Julian Schabel also directed Basquiat and is well known artist in his own right.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.23)
468 Votes
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